Beitar Jerusalem striker Itay Shechter and Ironi Kiryat Shmona defender Carlos Cuellar battle for the ball during last night’s 1-1 draw at Teddy Stadium.
(photo credit: DANNY MAROM)
Beitar Jerusalem returned to the summit of the Premier League standings on Monday night, but it was a case of two points dropped rather than one gained after it was held to a 1-1 draw by Ironi Kiryat Shmona at Teddy Stadium.
After winning its first three matches of the season, Beitar could only manage a second straight home draw on Monday, with Eden Ben-Basat’s stoppage-time equalizer for Hapoel Haifa denying it last weekend.
Beitar dominated the first 30 minutes and should have scored more than the single goal it netted courtesy of Claudemir’s free kick from 20 meters out in the eighth minute. In the 12th minute, Itay Shechter dived trying to win a penalty instead of attempting a shot at goal and four minutes later Georginho found himself with only goalkeeper Itamar Nitzan to beat, but instead decided to pass the ball to Hen Ezra who was in an offside position.
Kiryat Shmona changed its formation at the break and momentum shifted at the start of the second half after Shoval Gozlan headed in the equalizer in the 48th minute.
The visitors were closer to scoring the winner in the remainder of the contest, but a draw was ultimately a fair result which neither coach complained about.
“We should have decided the match when we had momentum on our side at the start of the encounter,” lamented Beitar coach Gili Lavenda, who remains at the helm on an interim basis. “We conceded a goal at a critical moment and that changed the momentum.”
After picking up a single point from its first two matches, Kiryat Shmona won two straight games and coach Haim Silvas was pleased with Monday’s draw.
“This club’s DNA is to try and win every match, even against an in-form Beitar at Teddy,” said Silvas. “But we didn’t start the match well. We conceded an early goal and found it very difficult to stop Beitar. We changed things in the second half and played better after that, so I’m pleased with this result.”
In other soccer news, former Israel captain Eran Zahavi said he sacrificed himself so that the national team would no longer be booed when he decided to retire from the blue-andwhite.
Zahavi announced he will no longer play for Israel earlier this month after he was suspended indefinitely by the Israel Football Association for flinging the captain’s armband during the 2018 World Cup qualifying defeat to Macedonia.
“I was treated like a state enemy after throwing the captain’s armband,” Zahavi said at the launching of his new biography.
“Things went a lot further than I thought. I am the only one that paid a price as I’m no longer part of the national team. I sacrificed myself so that the team won’t be booed anymore and players won’t be cursed. People forgot how much pride I bring to Israel while playing in the Chinese league.”