Betar, Sakhnin draw under the spotlight
By ALLON SINAI
Jerusalem mounts furious comeback as crowd kept under control; TA clubs set for derby.
The drama on the field exceeded that off it at Teddy Stadium on Sunday night
after Betar Jerusalem came back from two goals down to salvage a 2-2 draw
against Bnei Sakhnin thanks to an 85th-minute Steven Cohen
Over 400 policemen as well as some 200 security guards were at
the stadium to keep the peace following Betar’s recent struggle against a racist
group of its fans, numbering several hundreds, who have been protesting against
the signings of Chechen Muslims Dzhabrail Kadiyev and Zaur Sadayev.
people were arrested and 96 fans were expelled by the security forces on Sunday,
but considering the extreme measures taken and the volatile potential of the
showdown, the match ended without a hitch.
Betar had lost the two matches
it had played since owner Arkadi Gaydamak announced the arrival of Kadiyev and
Sadayev and it seemed to be heading to a third straight defeat after Mohammed
Kalibat gave Sakhnin a 2-0 lead at the break, scoring with a sensational solo
effort in the 27th minute and firing in from close range 10 minutes
However, the visitors squandered opportunities to clinch the win
in the second half and Eran Levy gave Betar a lifeline with a superb strike from
a tight angle in the 71st minute.
Kadiyev entered the match as an
80th-minute substitute and was received by a mixture of whistles and applause
every time he touched the ball. However, the Jerusalem fans forgot all about
their new Chechen player five minutes later when Cohen found the back of the net
with a header to give Betar a point it deserved.
“I’m pleased with a
point considering what happened in the first half,” said Betar coach Eli Cohen.
“I hope we can build momentum with this result.”
On Monday, Maccabi hosts
Hapoel in a mouthwatering Tel Aviv derby which will have major implications on
the title race.
Hapoel enters the showdown eight points behind Maccabi
after losing three straight matches.
The Reds fell to Betar Jerusalem,
Maccabi Haifa and Maccabi Netanya by a combined goal difference of 8-0, but they
also entered the first derby of the season following a loss to Netanya and ended
up eking out a 1-0 victory to close back within three points of the
A defeat on Monday will see Hapoel fall a massive 11
points behind Maccabi, but a victory could completely change the complexion of
the title race with four more matches to play before the league is split into
two sections and the top six teams face each other twice more to determine the
Almog Cohen is expected to make his debut for Hapoel on Monday
after completing his loan move from Bundesliga club Nuremberg, with Tal Ben-
Haim likely to return from injury.
Maccabi snapped its four-game winless
streak on the road with a 1-0 triumph at Hapoel Ramat Gan last week and has won
nine of 10 home games this season, claiming its past five by a combined goal
difference of 21-3.