Hapoel Beersheba midfielder Maor Buzaglo celebrates after scoring the opener in last night’s 2-0 win at Hapoel Kfar Saba for the local league leader..
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
There are still more than two thirds of the Premier League season to be played, but defending champion Hapoel Beersheba looks to be running away with the title, opening an eight-point gap at the top of the table on Sunday.
Despite a poor first half, Beersheba registered its seventh straight league win, beating Hapoel Kfar Saba 2-0 on the road. Second- place Maccabi Tel Aviv couldn’t follow suit, suffering a shock 1-0 loss against Bnei Yehuda in Rishon Lezion.
Beersheba, coming off an impressive 3-2 win over Inter Milan in Europa League action, took its combined goal difference over the winning streak to 24-2, although coach Barak Bachar was far from pleased with his team’s performance.
“It all comes down to attitude,” said Bachar. “I told the players that maybe this was our worst half since I’ve been with the team. It was embarrassing. We had no energy and we were lucky not to concede a goal or even more. If we didn’t wake up we would lose the match. It is very difficult to stop us when we wake up.”
Maccabi Tel Aviv failed to find the back of the net for the fourth time in five league matches, winning only once over that stretch thanks to a stoppage-time goal.
The yellow-and-blue looked lost for answers for much of Sunday’s match and suffered its third defeat of the campaign against a team that began the day in the relegation zone.
Almog Buzaglo scored the winner with an unstoppable header in the 80th minute, with his more famous brother, Maor, netting Beersheba’s opener in Kfar Saba.
“We had a bad game,” said Maccabi coach Shota Arveladze. “I don’t think we deserved to win. An eight-point gap is a lot.”
Bachar made five changes to the team that beat Inter and his team lacked urgency and tempo in the first half. The coach introduced Lucio and Ben Bitton in place of Ben Sahar and Matan Ohayon at the interval and Beersheba should have taken the lead eight minutes into the second half.
Slobodan Simovic was caught handling the ball in the box, but Anthony Nwakaeme’s penalty was saved by goalkeeper Ran Kadosh.
Beersheba continued to push forward and finally netted the breakthrough in the 66th minute. Simovic was sent off with a second yellow card for a foul on Michael Ohana and Maor Buzaglo expertly found the top left corner from the subsequent free kick.
Beersheba had to wait until the 86th minute to clinch the win, with Nwakaeme tucking in from close range to the relief of the team’s traveling supporters.
On Monday, Beitar Jerusalem aims to get back to winning ways when it hosts Bnei Sakhnin at Teddy Stadium. As per an agreement between both clubs, away supports, in this case Sakhnin fans, will not be allowed to attend the often volatile match between the teams.
In other soccer news, Ironi Kiryat Shmona named Tomer Kashtan as its new head coach on Sunday, capping a crazy 24 hours at the club. With the team holding a comfortable lead over Hapoel Ashkelon on Saturday night, Kiryat Shmona owner Izzy Sheratzky announced on live radio that he will fire coach Benny Ben-Zaken as he refused to accept his instructions to start with certain players.
Ben-Zaken had only guided Kiryat Shmona for three matches, winning two of them, after Sheratzky had sacked Moti Ivanir following the team’s poor start to the campaign.