Hapoel Be’er Sheva defeated Hapoel Haifa 3-1 at home to claim the top spot for at least a day.
Be’er Sheva leapfrogged idle Maccabi Tel Aviv, which can reclaim first place in the Premier League with a draw or victory at Beitar Jerusalem tonight.
Both teams were active early on, with Omri Kende making an impressive return to Haifa’s starting 11. Be’er Sheva already had its fourth corner kick to Haifa’s three by the 12th minute, but it was Haifa that would score the first goal.
In the 23rd minute, a free kick by Haifa midfielder Nebojša Marinkovic found Or Ostvind, who headed the ball across the pitch. Oshri Roash fielded the ball and punched it from close by past Be’er Sheva goalkeeper Austin Ejide.
Be’er Sheva needed just six minutes to equalize, as Dovev Gabay exploited a lapse in Haifa’s defense, as he took a free kick from Maor Buzaglo and headed it into the net from seven meters.
The score stayed that way for nearly three quarters of an hour, but Haifa became more vulnerable after losing two players to red cards – defender Danilo Nikolic in the 55th minute for grabbing Elyaniv Barda’s jersey and striker Yuval Avidor in the 59th minute for fouling Ofir Davidzada from behind at midfield.
With Haifa spread thin, Haifa goalkeeper Dreshler Kale went out to clear the ball in the 73rd minute but did so poorly. Be’er Sheva’s Siraj Nassar fielded the ball, cut to the middle and fired the ball from 16 meters into the far side of the net.
Be’er Sheva added an insurance goal in the 89th minute, as Tomer Swisa took advantage of Haifa’s desperate maneuvering to equalize while fielding just nine men. Swisa set himself up nicely with a swift left-leg kick that Kale had no answer for.
In other league games, Hapoel Acre beat Kiryat Shmona 2-1 on a brace by Brazilian midfielder Juliano Spadacio, Sakhnin blanked Ra’anana 1-0 on the road and Ramat Hasharon easily handled visiting Maccabi Petah Tikva 2-0.