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Hapoel Tel Aviv players celebrated a winning start to the Premier League season last night after beating Maccabi Netanya 1-0 at Bloomfield Stadium thanks to a Cristian Sârghi own goal. .(Photo by: ADI AVISHAI)
Beersheba and Beitar begin season with stalemate
Last season’s runner-up only manages 1-1 draw against Jerusalem, Hap TA beats Netanya 1-0.
Hapoel Beersheba’s Premier League title hopes suffered an early blow on Saturday night following a 1-1 draw against Beitar Jerusalem at Vasermil Stadium.

Beersheba took a sixth-minute lead through defender William Suarez, who guided in a Maor Buzaglo free kick.

However, the hosts, who ended last season in second place and are aiming to claim their first championship since 1976, couldn’t build on their encouraging start and struggled to create scoring opportunities.

Beitar, on the other hand, was far more dangerous, especially in the second half, and scored a deserved equalizer in the 69th minute, with Zarko Korac finding the back of the net from the penalty spot on his debut for the club.

Beersheba, which was playing without injured new signings Maor Melikson and Shlomi Arbeitman, failed to muster a response and gave coach Elisha Levy plenty to think about after just one match.

After a tumultuous summer, Hapoel Tel Aviv got its campaign off to a winning start, beating newly-promoted Maccabi Netanya 1-0 at Bloomfield Stadium.

New general manager Eyal Berkovic had to make do with a meager budget this summer following the departure of part-owner Ido Hagag. Hapoel did not have it all its own way on Saturday either, but it received a helping hand from Netanya defender Cristian Sarghi, who bundled Gili Vermut’s cross into his own net in the 23rd minute.

“We lost our way in the second half and we just wanted the match to end,” admitted Vermut. “We can’t allow that to happen again. We were a little lucky in the second half.”

Netanya coach Yossi Mizrahi was optimistic his team will improve as the season progresses.

“We were missing important defenders, but the players gave their all and the youngsters did well,” said Mizrahi.

“It is a shame we lost our first match because we didn’t deserve to, but we will move on from this defeat.”

Hapoel Ra’anana is the surprise leader after the first Saturday of the season thanks to a 4-0 thumping of Hapoel Petah Tikva.

Both teams are expected to battle against relegation this season, but Ra’anana was the far superior side in Netanya, taking a first-half lead through Snir Shucker (24) before running riot in the final 10 minutes, with goals from Emmanuel Mbola (83), Eli Babayev (88) and Mamadou Thiam (91) capping an impressive victory.

Ashdod SC and Ironi Kiryat Shmona were responsible for the first 0-0 draw of the season on Saturday. There may have been no goals at the Yud Alef Stadium in Ashdod, but there were three red cards and a missed penalty.

Ashdod’s Yero Bello was shown a straight red card for a reckless foul on Vova Brown in the 41st minute, but it was Ashdod which squandered a golden opportunity to take a lead into the break after Roei Bakal failed to convert a penalty in the 45th minute.

Three minutes from time, Ashdod’s Alexander Davidov and Kiryat Shmona’s Touvarno Pinas were sent off after exchanging blows.

Also Saturday, Hapoel Acre and Hapoel Haifa drew 1-1. Haifa went ahead through Mindaugas Kalonas (60), with Acre substitute Zion Zemah (74) equalizing two minutes after coming on from the bench before being stretchered off and taken to hospital a mere three minutes later.

Haifa ended the match with 10 men after Yuval Shabtai was sent off in the 89th minute.

On Sunday, Maccabi Tel Aviv begins its title defense when it visits Maccabi Petah Tikva. Maccabi Haifa hosts Bnei Sakhnin in its first ever match at the new Sammy Ofer Stadium on Monday.
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