Betar fans celebrate championship

By
May 13, 2007 23:50

Injury-time winner against Hap Tel Aviv lifts spirits at Sacher Park.

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Despite 25,000 of its fans having to cheer from 60 kilometers away at Jerusalem's Sacher Park and over 1,000 other supporters clashing with police just outside Winter Stadium in Ramat Gan, Betar Jerusalem managed to snatch a last-gasp, 2-1 victory over Hapoel Tel Aviv Sunday night. Derek Boateng's 93rd-minute goal completed the comeback for Betar, which trailed 1-0 until Tutu's 70th-minute equalizer. Twenty-two Jerusalem fans were arrested outside Winter and missed the celebration with their heroes, who came out to the supporters after the match. Sunday night's win will likely not help the situation for Betar coach Yossi Mizrahi, who has been the object of public humiliation by owner Arkadi Gaydamak in recent days. On Thursday night, Gaydamak told Betar supporters that Mizrahi will not continue as the team's coach next season. Earlier Sunday, Gaydamak, Mizrahi and chairmen Eli Arazi met in a Tel Aviv hotel, but none of the participants would make any definitive statements regarding Mizrahi's future afterwards. "We will see how we finish the year and then we will see if we have a better solution for the players, for the coach and for the administrative side," Gaydamak said. "In case we see that there are other opportunities to increase the quality of the game or the quality of Betar's situation, we will undoubtedly try and bring the best to Betar." Mizrahi, who joined Betar before the team's sixth Premier League match this season after Argentinean Ossie Ardiles was fired from the club, is the first coach in Israeli soccer history to guide a side to the championship despite not starting the season with the club. Hapoel only had one scoring chance throughout the entire first half but Walid Badier made it count. Elyaniv Barda was hacked down by Betar 'keeper Itzik Korenfein in the ninth minute, which left referee Menashe Mashiah no option but to award Tel Aviv a penalty. Badier clinically smashed the ball into the bottom-right corner of the goal. Betar registered its first shot toward goal 11 minutes later when Gal Alberman volleyed the ball just wide after good buildup play. Jerusalem fans at Sacher Park had to wait another 15 minutes to see their team come close to an equalizer. Barak Itzhaki, who was Betar's most active player of the half, forced a save out of 'keeper Neil Abarbanel in the 36th minute with a shot from the left flank. Five minutes later, Itzhaki shot at goal once more, but this time the ball flew just over the crossbar. Less than a minute into the second half, Itzhaki came close to scoring once again, but defender Amar Mantzur's desperate tackle cleared the ball for a corner-kick just in time. Betar continued to dominate the match in the second half, pushing for an equalizer. Alberman struck a good shot from 20 meters out in the 51st minute that was only kept out by an equally good Abarbanel save. Seven minutes later, Itzhaki had another golden opportunity but wasted David Amsalem's excellent buildup and ballooned the ball from the center of the box. In the 67th minute, Brazilian Tutu almost scored just minutes after coming on as a substitute, smashing his shot against the crossbar from a difficult angle. Three minutes later, Betar finally found the back of the net and got a well-fought-for equalizer. Tutu was first to Aviram Bruchian's shot that came off the post and easily rolled in the rebound. Three minutes into injury time, Jerusalem completed the comeback. Boateng stole the ball from Baruch Dego 30 meters from goal and scored the winner against arch-rival Hapoel.


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