Southerners open four-point gap over Mac TA with 1-0 road victory; Hap TA back to losing ways
By ALLON SINAI
Hapoel Beersheba dug deep to secure another week atop the Premier League standings on Saturday night, defeating Maccabi Petah Tikva 1-0 on the road to extend its unbeaten streak to 14 matches.Beersheba moved four points clear of Maccabi Tel Aviv, which visits Hapoel Acre on Monday, thanks to Maor Buzaglo’s cheeky penalty in the 45th minute.Buzaglo coolly chipped goalkeeper Itamar Nitzan after Maor Melikson was brought down in the box by Naor Pesser.Beersheba lost Loai Taha to a red card in the 86th minute, but held on for its 12th win from the past 14 games.“This was a very tough match against a very strong team with a good coach,” said Beersheba coach Barak Bachar, who used to be an assistant to Petah Tikva boss Ran Ben-Shimon. “We knew this wouldn’t be a walk in the park and this win gives us a real boost going forward.We are in a tight battle with Maccabi Tel Aviv and both teams will fight until the very end. We did our job tonight and that is what’s important right now.”Any illusion that the return of Eli Gutman as manager would immediately transform Hapoel Tel Aviv’s fortunes was dashed on Saturday after the Reds suffered a 1-0 defeat to Hapoel Kfar Saba.AdvertisementHapoel snapped a five-match winless streak with last week’s 3-1 win over Bnei Yehuda before also advancing to the State Cup last 16 after overcoming Hapoel Upper Nazareth in a penalty shootout.However, it remained just three points above the relegation zone after losing to Kfar Saba at Bloomfield Stadium. Mavis Tchibota scored the only goal of the match three minutes into the second half and Tel Aviv dropped to another defeat after failing to score a goal for a seventh straight home match. Hapoel’s remarkable barren spell stretches all the way back to September 28, 2015 when it defeated Bnei Yehuda 3-1.Kfar Saba won its third straight match over all competitions under new coach Sharon Mimer.Maccabi Netanya’s hopes of survival suffered another blow on Saturday after the coach-less team conceded two stoppage-time goals to lose 2-0 to Bnei Yehuda. Netanya, which was guided by interim coach Guy Tzarfati once more following the sacking of Reuven Atar last week, looked to be heading for at least one point until Jude Nworuh netted in the opener in the 90th minute.Pedro Galvan piled the misery on the hosts with a penalty three minutes into stoppage time after Netanya’s Saif Fedul was sent off. Eli Cohen, who was fired by Bnei Sakhnin earlier this season, is set to be named as Atar’s replacement this week and has his work cut out for him. Netanya’s winless streak reached 16 matches on Saturday, scoring a measly three goals over that stretch to leave it nine points from safety.Also Saturday, Zarko Korac’s 90th-minute equalizer gave Hapoel Haifa a 1-1 draw at Ironi Kiryat Shmona, which led through Austin Amutu’s 62nd-minute opener.Maccabi Haifa welcomes Hapoel Ra’anana on Sunday, while Beitar Jerusalem hosts Bnei Sakhnin on Monday.
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