Beitar Jerusalem’s hopes of qualifying for the Premier League championship playoffs suffered a significant blow on Sunday night following a 3-0 thrashing at the hands of Hapoel Haifa at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium.

Beitar climbed up to fourth place in the standings four weeks ago with a 2-0 win at Hapoel Tel Aviv, extending its unbeaten streak to eight matches.

However, the off-field distractions that accompanied the signing of Chechen Muslims Dzhabrail Kadiyev and Zaur Sadayev days after the victory over Hapoel have completely derailed the team, with Beitar winless in its four matches since owner Arkadi Gaydamak made the announcement, losing three times.

Haifa may have entered the encounter bottom of the standings, but it easily outplayed Jerusalem, comfortably claiming its fourth win of the season.

Vladimir Gluscevic headed the hosts into the lead from a Yuval Avidor cross in the 33rd minute and Haifa doubled its advantage 12 minutes after the break courtesy of a Matan Barashi own goal.

Gluscevic poured salt on Beitar’s wounds with a second goal in the 68th minute, leaving Jerusalem coach Eli Cohen with plenty to mull over on his way home.

“We have played below our usual level in the past month,” explained Cohen.

“Even when we struggled in the first month of the season we didn’t play like this. This isn’t Beitar. We are playing without any soul.

“I’m responsible and I’ll get the team out of this situation. Obviously, the players are struggling with all that has happened over the past month.”

Kadiyev was an unused substitute on Sunday as Beitar remained in seventh position, two points behind Hapoel Ramat Hasharon in sixth.

After two rounds of play and a total of 26 matches, the league will be split into two sections, with the top six teams to play each other twice more (10 matches in total) to decide the champion.

A failure to advance to the championship playoffs would be a hefty blow to the financially-struggling Beitar as it would deny it big pay days against the league’s top sides.

However, considering its recent play and the fact it visits Maccabi Haifa next week before ending its regular season matches at Maccabi Tel Aviv, Beitar has a mountain to climb to finish in the top six.

On Monday, Maccabi Tel Aviv will look to reopen an eight-point lead at the top when it visits Bnei Yehuda.

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger