Plunging Hap TA crashes to another defeat

Gabai’s hat-trick propels second-place Beersheba to impressive conquest at Bloomfield

HAPOEL BEERSHEBA (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Hapoel Beersheba demonstrated its title credentials with a resounding win at Bloomfield Stadium on Monday night, beating Hapoel Tel Aviv 3-1 to close back to within four points of Premier League leader Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Beersheba was on its back foot for much of Monday’s encounter, but made the most of its opportunities, with striker Dovev Gabai (42, 56, 71) netting a hat-trick, including two second- half penalties.
Hapoel dominated the possession and didn’t deserve to lose, but still dropped to its third consecutive defeat, its sixth of the season, which leaves the reds in seventh place, 15 points behind Beersheba and a further four points from the summit.
“This wasn’t one of our best games, but we knew how to react and recorded a big win,” said Beersheba coach Elisha Levy, whose team has won six of its past eight matches, going unbeaten in its past nine games.
Hapoel not only dropped to its third consecutive loss, but it also failed to win for the sixth time in its past seven matches, increasing the pressure on already embattled coach Ran Ben-Shimon.
The Reds at least managed to score a goal after a 1-0 defeat to Maccabi in the derby and last week’s 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Bnei Sakhnin, but that will be of little consolation for the coach.
“I’m proud of my players who played a superb game,” said Ben-Shimon. “The better team lost tonight, but that is something that can happen in soccer.”
Beersheba hadn’t beaten Hapoel at Bloomfield in over 19 years and it seemed unlikely to do so for most of the first half, with the hosts smothering the southerners.
However, Tel Aviv struggled to create scoring opportunities and the visitors struck on the break three minutes from the interval.
Elyaniv Barda laid the ball off for the incoming Gabai, who fired into the near corner, catching ’keeper Danny Amos off guard.
The hosts finally got their reward for dictating the pace six minutes into the second half, with Beersheba goalkeeper Austin Ejide failing to clear, allowing Ramzi Sfuri to equalize from close range.
However, Beersheba would move back in front just five minutes later, with Lior Levy handling the ball in the box. Gabai stepped up to convert the spot kick and he netted his second penalty of the night in the 71st minute after Orel Dgani was ruled to have pushed over the striker in the box.
In other soccer news, the Israel Football Association announced on Monday the members of the committee that will pick the next national team coach.
IFA chairman Avi Luzon, his deputy, Stern Haluba, IFA CEO Rotem Kemer, former Israel international Tzvika Rozen and former national team coach Dror Kashtan will be those who decide if Eli Gutman will be handed another term as Israel coach.
Gutman sat beside Luzon in Monday’s match at Bloomfield and is expected to be given two more years at the helm and guide Israel in Euro 2016 qualification despite the relative disappointment with the results the team achieved during 2014 World Cup qualifying.