Beersheba, Maccabi Haifa hold gap atop table

Maccabi Tel Aviv building momentum as season hits halfway point • Hapoel Jerusalem draws again

In its first season back up in the Premier League, Hapoel Jerusalem is holding its own despite sitting second-to-last in the standings through a full round of action. (photo credit: DANNY MARON)
In its first season back up in the Premier League, Hapoel Jerusalem is holding its own despite sitting second-to-last in the standings through a full round of action.
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)

Hapoel Beersheba blanked Hapoel Nof Hagalil 2-0 in Israel Premier League Round 13 action thanks to a pair of first-half goals to stay atop the table.

Miguel Vitor headed home a Ramzi Safuri corner kick while the latter himself sealed the deal at the stroke of halftime with a goal to help hand Roni Levy’s squad the three points.

“I’m proud of the players, the fans and the results,” Levy said. “We are always looking to do even more and I expect more from myself as well. We could have taken advantage of some of the situations that we were in during the second half to score a third goal, but we just couldn’t accomplish that. However, we kept the clean sheet and that result is what is most important.”

“On one hand I am very disappointed, but on the other I am very proud,” said Nof Hagalil bench boss Yaron Hochenboim. “I didn’t see Beersheba have many chances and their goals were from set-pieces, and that is what I am also upset at because we knew that they are very good at dead-ball opportunities.”

By the Carmel Mountain, Maccabi Haifa defeated Beitar Jerusalem 2-1 as Dean David scored a pair of goals just five minutes apart in the first half that held up over the balance of the game to help the Greens to the three points.

 HAPOEL BEERSHEBA teammates celebrate after scoring their second tally in Saturday night's 2-0 home victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv in Premier League action down south. (credit: DANNY MARON) HAPOEL BEERSHEBA teammates celebrate after scoring their second tally in Saturday night's 2-0 home victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv in Premier League action down south. (credit: DANNY MARON)

Omer Atzili and David combined on the first goal as the latter nodded home the ball in the 27th minute, while Tjaron Chery sent David on his way for the second goal in the 32nd minute to stun the visitors and take a 2-0 lead.

Yarden Shua cut the Haifa lead in the 73rd minute, but that was as close as Beitar would get as the hosts recorded the victory.

“There was a drop in pace between the halves and we thought that the game was already in our pocket, which happened this season against Netanya and we didn’t learn from that,” Haifa coach Barak Bachar said following the win. “At the end of the day we won, but it was also was our sixth game in close to three weeks.”

“We have to look at this game in two halves,” explained Beitar’s interim coach Gal Cohen. “The first half we were confused and thought this was way too big for us. But in the second half we saw the Beitar spirit and the substitutes were able to rally to get us into the game and we thought that we could escape with a point. We need to bring our quality and effort from the second half to all of our games.”

At Bloomfleld Stadium, Maccabi Tel Aviv shut out Hapoel Hadera 3-0 as Tal Ben Chaim scored a brace to lead the yellow-and-blue to the win just before the new head coach Mladen Krstajic takes over the helm from Barak Itzhaki, who had stepped in as the interim bench boss last month.

Stipe Perica opened the scoring in the 34th minute as he slotted home an Eyal Golasa ball to give Maccabi a 1-0 advantage.

Ben Chaim took care of a Gaby Kanichowsky rebound in the 60th minute to double the score while the winger put in a tough angle shot 10 minutes later to secure the victory.

“This was a good result and a good game,” Itzhaki said. “We controlled the game and we had plenty of chances. We scored and it was important that we didn’t concede any goals. We worked on many parameters of our game over the past few weeks and you can’t change it all in a minute or two. I will review the game with the new coach. I did what I could and gave everything of myself to the task.”

Meanwhile, Hapoel Jerusalem and Hapoel Haifa played to a 1-1 draw in the capital city as the two sides split the points.

Liran Sardel fed Hanan Maman with a perfect ball in the box that the latter spotted home to give the Carmel Reds a 1-0 lead in the 28th minute.

However, super-substitute Idan Shemesh came on for Jerusalem and found the equalizer from 13 meters out as he scored his third goal of the season to earn a point for Ziv Arie’s team.

“We could have won especially after taking the lead and the game was heading into the latter stages,” said Hapoel Haifa coach Elisha Levy. “We didn’t have that many chances and we lost three in a row including the Derby blowout. I believe that the draw reflected the match itself.”

“I sound like a broken record, but other than a couple of games we have been in it,” Jerusalem bench boss Ziv Arie noted. “This wasn’t a round of games that we should have only taken 11 points, but really we deserved 15-16 and then the story would be a bit different.”

Elsewhere, Bnei Sakhnin slipped by Maccabi Petah Tikva 1-0 on a first-half penalty goal by Beram Kayal to snatch the three points in a game that was played in Kiryat Shmona due to the closure of Doha Stadium after not meeting standards.

Guy Luzon’s squad tried to come back in the second half, but two red cards reduced Petah Tikva to nine men and its chances evaporated.

“It was important for us to end the first round of games well and this was excellent for us,” said Sakhnin coach Sharon Mimer. “We built a new team and the players are doing a great job. I just want to focus on soccer and if we do so then we will be able to do some terrific things.”

Also, Ironi Kiryat Shmona surprised Ashdod SC 2-0 as Itamar Shviro scored a brace at the port city to secure the three points for the visitors.

Shviro struck early as he beat Ashdod’s keeper Yoav Gerafi in the fourth minute and added an insurance marker in the 59th minute to hand coach Slobodan Drapic’s squad the victory.

“Three wins in a row is terrific and we needed the points,” noted Drapic. “We knew we needed to keep collecting points as the league is so tight except for a couple of teams at the top of the table.”

Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Netanya drew 1-1 at the Netanya Stadium.

Omri Gendelman nodded home the opening goal to give Netanya a 1-0 lead in the 30th minute, but Farley Rosa found the equalizer when the Brazilian sent a scorcher into the Hapoel goal as both sides earned a point.

“This was a fast-paced game with lots of chances,” Hapoel coach Nir Klinger said following the contest. “The first half was a bit weak, but the second half is exactly how I wanted to see us play. Netanya only looked for counterattacks and we were in control for the most part.”

“We didn’t lose,” Netanya coach Benny Lam began. “I think we played like a bottom-of-the-table team at certain points of the game. We were much better in the first half and in the second we weren’t as good. All in all, the guys did what they needed to and this was a decent game for us.”