Beersheba keeps pressure on Mac TA with win

Levy’s team beats Hap Haifa for 4th victory in 5 games; Beitar hosts Maccabi TA at Teddy tonight.

Maccabi Haifa players celebrate 370 (photo credit: Allon Sinai)
Maccabi Haifa players celebrate 370
(photo credit: Allon Sinai)
Hapoel Beersheba’s Premier League title challenge continued to gather pace on Saturday night, with the southerners returning to the top of the standings with a 3-1 victory against Hapoel Haifa at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium.
Beersheba extended its unbeaten run to six matches and leapfrogged Maccabi Tel Aviv into first place, at least for 24 hours, thanks to its fourth win in its past five contests.
Haifa took the lead through Oshri Roash’s goal in the 23rd minute, but it didn’t take the visitors long to level the score, with Dovev Gabai equalizing six minutes later.
The tight encounter turned on its head following two red cards within five second- half minutes, with Haifa finding itself down to nine men after Danilo Nikolic (55) was sent off for pulling down Elyaniv Barda and Yuval Avidor (59) was given his marching orders following a reckless challenge on Siraj Nasar.
Nasar would fire the visitors into the lead in the 72nd minute with his clever shot from the edge of the box before Tomer Swisa clinched all three points with a solo effort two minutes from time, handing Haifa its fourth straight loss.
“We showed our character by coming back from a goal down, and not for the first time this season,” said Beersheba coach Elisha Levy. “It is important to be in first place, but it is far more important to build on our good start to the season and continue to improve.”
Maccabi Tel Aviv can return to first place on Sunday night with a draw or a win against Beitar Jerusalem at Teddy Stadium.
New Beitar coach Roni Levy will watch the match from the stands after being appointed as Eli Cohen’s replacement on Friday. Cohen was sacked last week following Beitar’s third straight loss.
Levy, who guided Maccabi Haifa to three consecutive championships between 2004 and 2006, coached Beitar for six months before leaving the club in the summer of 2011 to join Romanian team Steaua Bucharest.
Levy resigned just three months later and guided Anorthosis Famagusta to a fourth-place finish in the Cypriot league in 2011/12 before being fired in April of this year.
Maccabi Haifa continued its recent resurgence with its fourth straight victory on Saturday, beating the sorry Bnei Yehuda 2-0 at Bloomfield Stadium.
After a poor first half, Spanish midfielder Rayo scored twice within 10 minutes (49, 59) to give the Greens all three points and keep them within striking distance of the summit.
Bnei Yehuda, which was guided by interim coach Ya’akov Asayag following Dror Kashtan’s resignation last week, remained in last place after losing for the 10th time in its past 12 matches.
Despite losing its first seven matches of the season, Hapoel Ramat Hasharon climbed out of the relegation zone on Saturday, beating Maccabi Petah Tikva 2-0 courtesy of goals from Michael Zandberg (81) and Emir Hadzic (87).
Ramat Hasharon is unbeaten in its past five games, while Petah Tikva dropped to its second straight defeat since Yitav Luzon replaced Moshe Sinai as coach.
Bnei Sakhnin remained in third place with a 1-0 victory at Hapoel Ra’anana on Saturday, with Mohammad Ghadir scoring the winner in the 78th minute.
Also Saturday, Hapoel Acre beat Ironi Kiryat Shmona 2-1. Juliano Spadacio (35, 63) scored for Acre, with Tamir Kahlon (70) netting a consolation goal for the visitors.
Hapoel Tel Aviv hosts Ashdod SC on Monday.