Beersheba, Kiryat Shmona back atop table

Southerners blank Mac Haifa, Northerners shut out Sakhnin as both remain without a loss.

Hapoel Beersheba vs Maccabi Haifa (photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Hapoel Beersheba vs Maccabi Haifa
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Hapoel Beersheba continued its strong start to the Premier League season and compounded the misery on Maccabi Haifa with a 2-0 victory over the Greens at Vasermil Stadium on Tuesday night.
Beersheba extended its unbeaten start to the campaign and claimed its fourth win in six matches thanks to goals from Shlomi Arbeitman (17) and Roei Gordana (77).
Elisha Levy’s team remained two points behind league-leader Ironi Kiryat Shmona, which beat Bnei Sakhnin 4-1 on Wednesday.
Haifa already finds itself 10 points behind first place and its hopes of challenging for the championship, not to mention winning the title, look to have already gone up in flames following its third straight loss and fourth defeat in six matches this season.
Haifa had its chances on Tuesday, but missed in front of goal time and again, while Beersheba made the most of its opportunities.
Arbeitman netted the opener after easily beating Haifa defender Eyal Meshumar to the ball and smashing it beyond ’keeper Vladimir Stojkovic.
Elyaniv Barda squandered a chance to double Beersheba’s lead in the 53rd minute, failing to convert a penalty. However, Gordana’s superb strike into the top left corner from 20 meters out secured the three points.
“The most important thing for us is that we cemented our place in the leading pack and continued to show improvement,” said Beersheba coach Elisha Levy.
“We had six 100 percent chances and we didn’t score and they took their chances,” explained Haifa coach Aleksandar Stanojevic. “It’s my responsibility and we will think about everything.”
Kiryat Shmona thrashed Sakhnin in Acre for its fifth straight win, maintaining its hold on first place by improving to 16 points out of a possible 18.
It wasn’t until the afternoon that the match was officially moved to Acre, with Sakhnin’s Doha Stadium being ruled unfit to host the encounter on Monday night due to floodlight failure.
However, despite only finding out hours before the scheduled kickoff where the contest would take place, Kiryat Shmona remained as focused as ever, taking the lead after a mere 40 seconds.
Roei Kehat blasted in the opener from the edge of the box, only for Sakhnin to get back on level terms after 10 minutes thanks to Firas Mugrabi’s strike.
Mugrabi’s goal was just the second allowed by Kiryat Shmona this season and the league-leader had to wait until the second half to move back in front.
David Manga scored four minutes after the break, beginning a Kiryat Shmona blitz which clinched all three points.
Ofir Mizrahi found the back of the net two minutes later and Kehat (59) scored his second goal of the night and his team’s third in 11 minutes to extend its winning streak.
After losing its past two matches to Kiryat Shmona and Beersheba by a combined goal difference of 0-7, Maccabi Petah Tikva rebounded with a 1-0 win at Hapoel Haifa on Tuesday.
Bryan Gerzicich scored the only goal of the match in the 18th minute.
On Wednesday, defending champion Maccabi Tel Aviv hosts Ashdod SC.
The yellow-and-blue will be confident of claiming its fifth win in six matches with Eran Zahavi in sensational form, scoring for a record 10th straight game in Sunday’s 4-1 win over Hapoel Acre.
Also Wednesday, Hapoel Ra’anana aims to build on its win over Maccabi Haifa when it welcomes Acre.