Two points separate top 3 after Beersheba win

Elisha Levy’s team holds on for tight victory over Hap PT, while Beitar fightback gives it road win at Maccabi Haifa.

Hapoel Beersheba midfielder John Ogu (right) scored his team’s opener in last night’s 2-1 victory over Hapoel Petah Tikva (photo credit: MEIR EVEN HAIM)
Hapoel Beersheba midfielder John Ogu (right) scored his team’s opener in last night’s 2-1 victory over Hapoel Petah Tikva
(photo credit: MEIR EVEN HAIM)
Hapoel Beersheba extended its home winning streak to six matches on Saturday night, beating Hapoel Petah Tikva 2-1 at Vasermil Stadium to turn up the heat on Ironi Kiryat Shmona and Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Premier League title race.
Beersheba has picked up 19 of a possible 21 points at Vasermil so far this season and leapfrogged two-time defending champion Maccabi into second place on Saturday. Elisha Levy’s team moved within a single point of league-leader Ironi Kiryat Shmona, which visits Hapoel Tel Aviv in Netanya on Monday. Maccabi Tel Aviv faces Hapoel Ra’anana in the same stadium on Sunday.
John Ogu headed Beersheba into the lead in the 16th minute on Saturday before Siraj Nassar doubled the advantage 11 minutes later.
Dor Kochav reduced the deficit to a single goal in the 32nd minute and Petah Tikva was denied what seemed like a clearcut penalty two minutes later when referee Roei Reinshriber determined that Omri Altman had dived rather than brought down by Ofir Davidzada.
Beersheba was closer to a third goal than Petah Tikva was to an equalizer in the second half, and even though his team took all three points, coach Levy was furious at the end of the match after Ogu was sent off in the 92nd minute for striking Mirko Oremus in the face.
The influential Nigerian midfielder will miss next Monday’s crunch showdown with Maccabi Tel Aviv, but Levy was mainly concerned with his team’s overall performance on Saturday.
“This was a must-win match,” said Levy. “We had chances to make life easier on ourselves. The sending off was unnecessary and we will be shorthanded against Maccabi. Hopefully we can nevertheless play better than we did tonight and also record a good result.”
Beitar Jerusalem jumped six places in the standings on Saturday after coming back from a goal down to beat 10-man Maccabi Haifa 3-1 at Sammy Ofer Stadium.
Gustavo Boccoli’s reckless challenge in the 69th minute left Haifa with 10 men, but the Greens nevertheless moved in front six minutes later courtesy of Alon Turgeman’s strike.
However, Itzik Cohen’s brace within three minutes (83, 86) turned the match on its head and Tomer Swisa capped the win in stoppage time, rolling the ball into an empty net after Haifa goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic ran up the pitch for his team’s corner.
Haifa remained in fourth place, but dropped to its eighth defeat of the season and is still just five points above the relegation zone.
Only two points separate the eight teams positioned between fourth and 11th places, with Maccabi Netanya and Hapoel Haifa among those sides after claiming road victories on Saturday.
Netanya beat Maccabi Petah Tikva 1-0 thanks to Diya Saba’s 67th-minute winner, while Haifa defeated Ashdod SC courtesy of Maharan Lala’s 64th-minute goal.
Hapoel Acre remained rooted to last place following a 3-1 defeat to Bnei Sakhnin.
Acre took the lead through Amir Abu-Nil (14), but goals from Mohammad Ghadir (55), Firas Mugrabi (70) and Ismaeel Ryan (85) gave Sakhnin all three points.