Leader Beersheba held in draw with Sakhnin

Ashdod overcomes Ashkelon • Mac TA can cut gap to 5 points by beating Jerusalem on Monday.

January 2, 2017 06:00
2 minute read.
Hapoel Beersheba midfielder Maor Buzaglo (center) was frustrated by Bnei Sakhnin’s Khaled Khalaila (

Hapoel Beersheba midfielder Maor Buzaglo (center) was frustrated by Bnei Sakhnin’s Khaled Khalaila (right) and Ali Osman (left) during last night’s 0-0 draw at Doha Stadium.. (photo credit: ERAN LUF)

Hapoel Beersheba’s Premier League winless streak reached three matches on Sunday night, with the defending champion being held to a 0-0 draw by Bnei Sakhnin at Doha Stadium.

Beersheba seemed to be cruising to a second straight league title just two weeks ago, opening a 10-point gap at the top after claiming a club record nine consecutive victories.

Barak Bachar’s team averaged over 3.5 goals per game over the winning streak, but has failed to find the back of the net in two of its past three contests.

A 1-0 defeat to Hapoel Ra’anana was followed by a 1-1 draw against Hapoel Tel Aviv, and Maccabi Tel Aviv can cut the gap to just five points with a win over Beitar Jerusalem on Monday after Beersheba was denied victory yet again in Sakhnin.

“Both teams had chances and we needed to be more composed in front of goal and convert some of our opportunities,” said Bachar, who did his best to remain upbeat. “There is no need to be too disappointed.

Clearly not winning three matches in a row is too much for us, but we need to focus on our next matches.

“We are still optimistic,” added Bachar, whose side hosts Maccabi Haifa next week. “I would be worried had we been playing really poorly, but we have played well in our last two matches and it is not that we have experienced a dramatic dip in form.”

Sakhnin extended its unbeaten run to six matches, moving up to sixth place with the draw.

Also Sunday, Ashdod SC climbed out of the relegation zone with a 1-0 win over rock-bottom Hapoel Ashkelon. Dan Bitton scored the only goal of the match with a superb shot from the edge of the box after eight minutes. Ashdod has lost just twice in its past 11 matches, with the defeats coming against Beersheba and Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Maccabi Tel Aviv will look to close within five points of the top when it visits Beitar Jerusalem at Teddy Stadium on Monday.

“Every game has its own special identity and we have some notes that we will look at before the game. The main point is that we know that Beitar can always bring extra motivation against us,” said Maccabi coach Shota Arveladze, who revealed the club is negotiating with several potential signings. “We also know they took the first points from us this campaign. There are some special things we will let the boys know about before the game.”

Beitar’s encouraging start to the season has become a distant memory, with the team falling to eighth place in the standings after winning just one of its past six matches.

Jerusalem is as close to the relegation zone (six points) as it is to Ironi Kiryat Shmona in fifth place, and coach Ran Ben-Shimon is running out of opportunities to save his job.

The pressure at the club is clear for all to see, with Ben-Shimon choosing not show up for Sunday’s pre-game press conference and owner Eli Tabib deciding to address the players the day before the match.

“We were under pressure before the season even began and we will need to find a way to handle it,” said Beitar captain Dan Einbinder. “We weren’t committed and composed in our recent matches and we need to regain our early season form.”

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