Chelsea flop Ben Sahar proves critics wrong in La Liga

Chelsea flop Ben proves critics wrong in La Liga

October 1, 2009

Ben Sahar, the former Chelsea striker, has put his Premier League blues behind him after making a flying start for Espanyol in La Liga.

The Israeli opened his account in the 2-1 win over Malaga and spoke of his preference for the Spanish League.

“In England the game is fast but also very physical,” he said, “but I’m enjoying my football more in Spain where the game is more technical and based less on long balls. You also have much more space and that’s what I like.”

Sahar, 20, joined Espanyol in the summer after three years at Chelsea where he managed only three appearances. He was loaned to QPR, Sheffield Wednesday, and De Graafschap in Holland. He also had a disastrous spell at Portsmouth where he did not play and was told that he was only Championship quality.

Yet just over a month into the Spanish season, he has established himself as one of the brightest young prospects in La Liga where he has played in four of Espanyol’s five games. Against Malaga he rose to head home a 55th-minute goal, and on Sunday came on as a substitute in the goalless draw against Xerex. He almost won the game but was denied by an injury time save.

The Israeli also grabbed headlines in Spain because after the final whistle he was whisked across the city with a police escort to Barcelona’s Bet Habad to start the Yom Kippur fast. Real Mallorca keeper Dudu Awat was also rushed home in time for the holy day. A clean sheet lifted his team to fourth in the table.

Ahead of the Champions League match against Fiorentina, Yossi Benayoun arrived in Florence a day before his teammates to ensure he could fast.

Gai Assulin was an unused substitute in Barcelona’s Champions League match against Dynamo Kiev. It was the first time the 18-year-old Israeli featured in the first team squad for a competitive match.

Tamir Cohen scored his third Premier League goal of the season as Bolton beat Birmingham 2-1. The Israeli defensive midfielder opened the scoring with a header. He is Bolton’s top-scorer this season.

Cohen said: “After a really difficult season last year when I was injured most of the time, the new season has started marvellously. I’ve been given a chance and I’ve taken it. The goals are just a bonus. The most important thing is that the team keeps on winning and I can keep my place.”

Haifa slip again

A Michael Ciani header condemned Maccabi Haifa to their second Champions League defeat at the hands of French champions Bordeaux. Haifa finished with 10 men after Baram Kayal was dismissed for a dangerous challenge two minutes from time. Having lost their opening group match against Bayern Munich, Haifa remain pointless ahead of their clash with Juventus in Turin on October 21.

Last updated: 11:51am, October 2 2009