Beersheba remains in reach of top two

Arbeitman on target once more in win over Hap Tel Aviv; Mac Haifa runs riot in 5-0 victory over Ashdod

Hapoel Beersheba takes a win over Maccabi Yavne in the first leg of the State Cup quarterfinals (photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Hapoel Beersheba takes a win over Maccabi Yavne in the first leg of the State Cup quarterfinals
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Shlomi Arbeitman’s prolific form ensured Hapoel Beersheba put some pressure on the top two ahead of their showdown on Monday night, while Maccabi Haifa fans were finally given something to cheer about on Saturday.
After an erratic start to the season, Arbeitman has hit his stride in recent weeks, scoring his sixth goal in the past four matches on Saturday to give Beersheba a 1-0 win over Hapoel Tel Aviv at Vasermil Stadium. Arbeitman beat Tel Aviv’s Sari Falah to goalkeeper Austin Ejide’s long goal-kick in the 42nd minute before lobbing Apoula Edel.
Beersheba moved within five points of league-leader Maccabi Tel Aviv and three points of Ironi Kiryat Shmona before the two face off at Bloomfield Stadium on Monday.
“This is a very important win for us,” said Beersheba coach Elisha Levy. “We have come through an intense week and we are now in a good position in the league and the cup.”
The defeat left Hapoel Tel Aviv in ninth place, just four points above Hapoel Petah Tikva and the relegation zone.
Maccabi Haifa claimed its biggest win of the season on Saturday, beating Ashdod SC 5-0 at Bloomfield Stadium.
Itay Shechter, Eliran Atar and Mohamed Kamara all scored their first goals for the club since joining the Greens in the January transfer window.
Yossi Benayoun set up Shechter’s (8) and Hen Ezra’s (19) goals, with Kamara (55), Atar (83) and Ezra (90) once more, completing the rout for Haifa, which was punished to host the match away from Sammy Ofer Stadium due to the unruly behavior of its fans.
“We played well from the first moment and finally made the most of our scoring opportunities,” said Benayoun, with Haifa climbing up to seventh place, a mere three points from sixth, which will lead to the championship playoffs. “However, this was just one match. We need to draw confidence from this, but turn our focus to our next game. There is a very small gap between the championship and relegation playoffs and we need to be ready for our next matches in order to secure our place in the top six.”
Only six points currently separate Haifa in seventh and Hapoel Petah Tikva in 13th, with the latter claiming a crucial 2-1 win over Hapoel Haifa on Saturday.
Ben Ben-Yair (6) and Shahar Hirsch (17) scored for Petah Tikva, with Maharan Lala’s (49) consolation goal failing to spoil Menahem Koretzki’s debut as Petah Tikva’s coach.
While Petah Tikva has renewed hope of surviving in the top flight, Hapoel Acre already looks all but doomed, remaining eight points behind safety on Saturday.
Acre suffered a 2-0 loss to fourthplace Maccabi Petah Tikva, with Idan Shemesh (25) and Oz Peretz (72) scoring for the winners, who had Omer Danino sent off in the 63rd minute.
Also Saturday, Anthony Nwakaeme’s stoppage-time solo effort gave Hapoel Ra’anana a dramatic 2-1 win over Maccabi Netanya. Netanya seemed to be cruising after Ra’anana goalkeeper Daniel Lifshitz was sent off and Eran Levy converted a penalty kick in the 14th minute.
However, Netanya lost Ido Levy to a red card in the 75th minute and Snir Shuker equalized from the rebound of Nwakaeme’s missed penalty moments later.
Netanya pushed forward in search of a winner, but Nwakaeme caught the visitors off guard at the other end, racing all the way from his own half before beating Ariel Harush.
On Sunday, Beitar Jerusalem hosts Bnei Sakhnin at Teddy Stadium.