Hapoel Beersheba’s Maor Melikson and Dovev Gabay.
(photo credit: ASAF KLIGER)
Maor Melikson scored a penalty on his debut for Hapoel Beersheba on Saturday, but the southerners missed two more spot kicks and had to settle for a disappointing 1-1 draw at Hapoel Ra’anana.
Elsewhere, Ironi Kiryat Shmona took sole possession of first place with its third consecutive win, beating Maccabi Petah Tikva 3-0.
Beersheba was hoping to build on its 3-2 victory over reigning champion Maccabi Tel Aviv three weeks ago, but looked out of sorts for much of Saturday’s encounter in Netanya, with Yom Kippur and international action forcing a longer than usual break to local league play.
A superb solo effort by Anthony Nwakaeme handed the hosts the lead in the 18th minute. Ra’anana was still ahead at halftime, with Beersheba’s Dovev Gabay missing a penalty nine minutes from the interval after Ovidiu Hoban was brought down in the box.
Beersheba was forced to substitute the injured Elyaniv Barda, who scored a hattrick in the win over Maccabi, at the break, but equalized in the 70th minute after Melikson converted his team’s second spot kick of the night following a foul on Maor Buzaglo.
Melikson, who came on as a substitute in the 56th minute, returned to the club this summer after three years in Poland and France, but missed the start of the season due to a thigh injury. He could have capped a dream debut in the 77th minute, only to hit the right post with his second penalty, awarded to Beersheba after a Yoav Lerman handball.
“To be honest, a draw was a fair result,” said Beersheba coach Elisha Levy. “We didn’t play well. We welcomed Melikson back, but on the other hand we lost Barda to injury. The most important thing is that we improve in our next matches.”
Ra’anana coach Haim Silvas wasn’t quite sure how he felt at the final whistle.
“I’m feeling mixed emotions. I don’t know if I should be happy or disappointed,” said Silvas. “We managed to stop Beersheba, which is a very good team.
The match could have gone either way and I’m really proud of my players.”
Kiryat Shmona secured itself at least one more week at the top of the standings with a comfortable win over Maccabi Petah Tikva. Kiryat Shmona took a deserved lead through a Joachim Mununga own-goal in the 43rd minute before Rodgers Kola (56) and Ahed Azam (80) capped another convincing triumph for the northerners.
A 92nd-minute own-goal gave Hapoel Tel Aviv a share of the spoils at Bnei Sakhnin on Saturday. Abraham Paz looked to have given the hosts all three points with his 89th-minute header after Hapoel ‘keeper Danny Amos denied Mohammad Ghadir’s 67th-minute penalty. However, Ala’a Abu Saleh sent the ball into his own net three minutes later to level the score at 1-1 and keep Sakhnin winless this season.
Roei Shukrani’s 93rd-minute winner gave Hapoel Haifa its first victory of the season on Saturday, a 3-2 triumph over Maccabi Netanya in Acre.
A Tadas Kijanskas own-goal gave Netanya an eighth minute lead, but the Lithuanian made amends with a 22nd-minute equalizer.
Gal Cohen capped Haifa’s comeback one minute from the break, but the defender was sent off in the 70th minute and Shimon Harush leveled the score for Netanya two minutes later.
However, despite playing with 10 men, it was Haifa which claimed all three points thanks to Shukrani’s stoppage- time strike.
Also Saturday, Hapoel Petah Tikva picked up its first points of the season with a 4-1 win over Hapoel Acre. Over 7,000 fans, who made the most of Petah Tikva’s decision to allow free entry, saw Shahar Hirsh (22) and Guy Dayan (24) give the hosts a promising lead. Amaya Taga (52) handed Acre a lifeline, but Hirsh chipped the goalkeeper just one minute later before Dor Hugi completed the win in the 90th minute.
On Sunday, Beitar Jerusalem hosts Ashdod SC, while Maccabi Tel Aviv welcomes Maccabi Haifa in a mouthwatering showdown at Bloomfield Stadium on Monday night.