Beer Sheva ready for Saints test


Barak Bakhar believes Hapoel Beer Sheva have nothing to fear when they travel to Southampton for what is effectively a winner-takes-all match in the Europa League next week.

The teams are deadlocked on seven points going into the final round of matches in Group K, with the Saints sitting in second place on goal difference, five points behind group winners Sparta Prague.

Hapoel, who lead Ligat Ha’Al, kept themselves in contention with a thrilling comeback against Italian giants Inter Milan.

Super-sub Ben Sahar fired a stoppage-time winner to send their illustrious opponents crashing out at the Turner Stadium in a 3-2 victory.

Inter led 2-0 lead through Mauro Icardi and Marcelo Brozovic, but second-half strikes from Lucio Maranhao and Anthony Nwakaeme hauled Hapoel back into the contest. And they finished with a numerical advantage after Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic was sent off.

This set up a grandstand finish and Sahar, the former Chelsea striker, was on hand to spark scenes of wild celebration with a stoppage-time winner for last season’s Israeli champions to complete a double over Inter.

Bakhar said: “With a group like we have, we always believed. We made mistakes in the first half and were aggressive, but at half-time, I asked the players to enjoy the game.

"They knew they didn’t play that well in the first half. I asked them to do the best we can and they made the best of the best.”

Maccabi Tel Aviv remain in contention for the Round of 32 stage despite a 2-0 defeat against Group D winners Zenit in St. Petersburg.

Maccabi host Dundalk at the Netanya Municipal Stadium.

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