Kristine L Ming

Hapoel Beersheba held by Netanya in opener

Hapoel Beersheba registered its 36th straight home match without defeat to set a new Premier League record on Saturday night, but the two-time defending champion was in anything but a celebratory mood after drawing 1-1 against Maccabi Netanya at Turner Stadium.

Beersheba was far from convincing, playing with a makeshift lineup ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League playoff second leg against NK Maribor in Slovenia.

Beersheba beat Maribor 2-1 in the first leg at Turner last week and is aiming to qualify for the Champions League group stage for the first time in club history.

Coach Barak Bachar made nine changes to the lineup which defeated Maribor and Beersheba was fortunate to claim a draw, even though newly- promoted Netanya played with 10 men from the 68th minute following Ben Zhairy’s sending off.

The hosts had taken the lead through Tomas Pekhart in the 40th minute, but Netanya leveled the score four minutes later thanks to Aviv Avraham.

“I have a lot of excuses, but I would rather credit Netanya which was excellent and should have won this match,” said Bachar.

“They made us look bad and were the better team. It is always nice to break records, but the most important thing is to realize our dreams on Tuesday and reach the Champions League group stage. We are 90 minutes away from achieving something great, he added.

Earlier Saturday, Maccabi Petah Tikva opened the season with a 2-1 win at Ashdod SC courtesy of a solo strike by rising star Manor Solomon.

The 18-year-old midfielder has already received a call-up to the Israel national team and began what is tipped to be his breakthrough season with an excellent winner in the 63rd minute.

Solomon curled the ball in after wriggling free in the box, capping Petah Tikva’s comeback after the visitors had leveled the score four minutes earlier through Lidor Cohen.

Dan Bitton had given the hosts the lead in the 27th minute of Reuven Atar’s first match in charge of Ashdod.

“I’m really pleased with my goal, especially as we won,” said Solomon.

Hapoel Haifa also came back from a goal down to open its campaign with a victory, defeating Hapoel Ashkelon 3-1 at Haifa Stadium.

Tal Ayala gave the visitors the lead on seven minutes, but Haifa would complete a comeback within five second- half minutes.

Eden Ben-Basat equalized in the 60th minute and Alon Turgeman handed Haifa the lead four minutes later before clinching the three points with his second goal of the night eight minutes from time.

“I couldn’t have asked for more. This feels amazing,” said Turgeman following his debut for Haifa. “I’m at a new club, a new home and I have no doubt this is the right place for me.”

Also Saturday, Ironi Kiryat Shmona and Hapoel Ra’anana drew 0-0.

On Sunday, Beitar Jerusalem will be guided by assistant coach Gili Levanda when it visits Maccabi Tel Aviv. Beitar has yet to appoint a replacement for coach Sharon Mimer, who was sacked on Wednesday.

Article source: http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Sports/Hapoel-Beersheba-held-by-Netanya-in-opener-502902

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