Hapoel Tel Aviv players celebrate with Edi Gotlieb (6) after he scored his team’s second goal in last night’s 2-0 win at Hapoel Haifa..
(photo credit: ERAN LUF)
On the back of two contrasting experiences in the Europa League, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Beersheba resume the Premier League title race on Monday night.
Eyal Golasa’s 82nd-minute winner gave Maccabi a 2-1 win at AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands on Thursday night, reviving the team’s hopes of advancing to the round of 32.
Maccabi, which visits Maccabi Haifa in Premier League action on Monday, had lost its first two matches in Group D, but moved within just one point of Irish side Dundalk in second place, which also leads to the next round, thanks to Thursday’s three points.
Zenit has essentially already wrapped up first place by winning its first three matches, and Maccabi is confident of its chances with AZ and Dundalk still having to come to Israel.
Maccabi hosts AZ in Netanya on November 3, before visiting Zenit three weeks later. Tel Aviv completes its group games when it welcomes Dundalk on December 8. Home wins against AZ and Dundalk should be enough for Maccabi to progress.
“Maccabi Haifa is a very tough team. We have a number of games in a row now and we have to go on a good run.” said Golasa, who played for Haifa between 2008 and 2014 before joining Greek club PA OK Thessaloniki.
Maccabi hasn’t played in the Premier League since September 21 when it improved to 16 points out of a possible 18 with a 3-0 triumph at Bnei Sakhnin. The league leader, which holds a three-point gap over Beersheba, will be expecting to encounter a far tougher time at Maccabi Haifa on Monday.
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Haifa has won just two of six matches to date, but showed its potential by defeating Beersheba at home.
Despite its encouraging start to Europa League Group K, which included a 2-0 win at Inter Milan and a goalless deadlock against English Premier League club Southampton, Beersheba finds itself in a tricky position following the frustrating 1-0 defeat to Sparta Prague at Turner Stadium.
Beersheba, which visits the unbeaten Ironi Kiryat Shmona on Monday, has four points like Southampton, with Sparta leading the way with six points and Inter on three points.
The reigning champion still has to visit Prague on November 3 and Southampton in its final group match on December 8, with Inter coming to the Negev on November 24.
Kiryat Shmona is one of only two unbeaten teams with Maccabi Tel Aviv, but it has picked up just eight points from its first six games, winning on the opening weekend before registering five consecutive draws.
Beersheba thrashed Maccabi Petah Tikva 5-0 in a postponed match last week, but the latter moved back up to second place at the expense of the former on Saturday with a 4-1 win over Bnei Yehuda.
Giddy Kanyuk (23), Mihai Roman (35, 49) and Mohammed Kalibat (88) scored for the winners, with Alon Turgeman (73) netting a consolation goal for Bnei Yehuda, which has won only one match this season.
Also Saturday, Hapoel Tel Aviv moved tied with Kiryat Shmona after its revival continued with a 2-0 victory over Hapoel Haifa. Omri Altman (49) and Edi Gotlieb (61) scored for Hapoel, which won its second straight match after going winless in its first five games.
Hapoel Ra’anana also has eight points, beating Hapoel Kfar Saba 2-1 for its first road victory in league action since December 2015.
Mohammed Shaker netted a brace for Ra’anana either side of the interval (45, 52), with Mavis Tchibota (50) initially equalizing for the hosts.
Also Saturday, Bnei Sakhnin beat Hapoel Ashkelon 1-0 thanks to Yuval Avidor’s 66th-minute winner, while Beitar Jerusalem and Ashdod SC drew 0-0.
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