Hapoel Beersheba won the bidding war for the services of Israel national team striker Ben Sahar.
(photo credit: ERAN LUF)
A clinical brace by Ben Sahar took Hapoel Beersheba back to the top of the Premier League standings on Monday night, snapping a three-match winless streak with a 2-0 victory over Beitar Jerusalem at Teddy Stadium.
Maccabi Tel Aviv piled the pressure on Beersheba by leapfrogging into first place with Sunday’s 3-0 win over Hapoel Ra’anana.
Beersheba also entered the encounter on the back of its longest winless streak this season, drawing three consecutive contests at home. However, it returned to winning ways on the road and reestablished a one-point advantage over Maccabi with a composed performance at Teddy, extending its unbeaten streak to 24 games.
Sahar, starting just his fifth league match of the season for Beersheba, gave the visitors the lead in the 22nd minute.
John Ogu’s through-ball from the center of the field sliced the Beitar defense and Sahar made no mistake in front of goalkeeper Boris Kleyman. The striker did all the hard work himself nine minutes later, firing an unstoppable shot into the bottom right corner from a difficult angle.
Beitar dropped to its second straight loss, but is still all but certain to end the season in third place, sitting 14 points ahead of Sakhnin in fourth and 14 points back of Maccabi in second.
Beersheba hosts Maccabi Haifa next week before playing its next three matches on the road, a stretch ending with a visit to Bloomfield Stadium to face Maccabi Tel Aviv for the last time in league action this season.
That will be the yellow-and-blue’s penultimate match at Bloomfield, with the club announcing on Sunday that it will host its home matches at the Municipal Stadium in Netanya next season due to the closure of Bloomfield for renovations.
Bloomfield will undergo a complete overhaul that is expected to take around three years.
“Everyone knows what Bloomfield means to us,” said forward Tal Ben-Haim following the win over Ra’anana. “There are a lot of great stadiums in the country but I don’t think that there are many that give us what this stadium does.”
Coach Peter Bosz claimed Maccabi had a far tougher time against Ra’anana than it did in the recent 1-1 draw against Beersheba.
“Ra’anana was better than Beersheba and how they played against us was much more difficult, so we had to make the change at halftime,” said Bosz, who was moved by the fans’ tribute to legendary Dutch player and coach Johan Cruyff, father of Maccabi’s sports director Jordi Cruyff, who passed away on March 24.
“For everyone who knew him he was very special,” said Bosz. “He brought so much to football. Jordi is important for Maccabi, he’s been with the club for a long time and he lost his father which is terrible. Johan was just here for a week, two or three weeks ago. I had the chance to be with him for a week and we talked about football in general and about Maccabi, the players and how we play."
“I learned a lot, not just about football, but life as well. He passed away so quickly after being in Tel Aviv and the last match he was at was Maccabi against Kfar Saba. This man may have seen a hundred thousand football games and the last one was Maccabi. It’s very emotional.”