Beitar Jerusalem players.
(photo credit: ASAF KLIGER)
Jerusalem registers 1-0 victory at Teddy Stadium; Hapoel stops Maccabi in Haifa derby deadlock.
Beitar Jerusalem returned to winning ways with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Hapoel Ra’anana at Teddy Stadium on Saturday night, relieving some of the pressure on coach Ran Ben-Shimon.
Beitar had won just two of its first eight league matches, losing only once but registering five draws. Jerusalem kept a clean sheet for just the third time this season on Saturday, and it could have hardly come at a better time, ensuring Jesus Rueda’s 69th-minute goal was all it needed to pick up all three points against Ra’anana.
“We played a very good game,” said Ben-Shimon, who breathed a huge sigh of relief at the final whistle after Johan Audel also missed a penalty for his team in the second minute. “We are focused on the long-term and Beitar is going to reach the very top of the standings. I hope we can combine some wins now.”
Maccabi Haifa could have climbed up to second place in the standings with a third straight win on Saturday night, but could only manage a 0-0 draw with Hapoel Haifa in the derby. Hapoel snapped a three-game losing streak.
“I’m happy with another clean sheet,” said Maccabi Haifa coach Rene Meulensteen.
“We are on a decent run and seven points from nine is pretty good.”
Ashdod SC picked up its first win of the season on Saturday, defeating Hapoel Tel Aviv 1-0. Niv Zrihen scored the winner in the 11th minute, lifting Ashdod out of the relegation zone.
Hapoel is only two points above the bottom two.
Ironi Kiryat Shmona got life under new coach Benny Ben-Zaken off to a winning start on Saturday, beating Bnei Yehuda 1-0 on the road. Shlomi Azulay netted the winner four minutes into the second half after Ahmed Abed had missed a penalty in the 45th minute.
On Sunday, league-leader Hapoel Beersheba visits Hapoel Ashkelon, while Maccabi Tel Aviv looks to bounce back from two consecutive losses when it hosts surprise package Maccabi Petah Tikva.
Beersheba is coming off a 2-0 loss at Sparta Prague in Europa League action on Thursday night, leaving it in a tough position in Group K.
Beersheba has four points from four matches, three behind Southampton in second place and five back of Prague.
Inter has three points.
Beersheba hosts Inter in two-anda- half weeks before capping its group matches with a visit to Southampton.
Maccabi Tel Aviv drew 0-0 with AZ Alkmaar on Thursday, extending its scoring drought in the Premier League and Europa League to three matches.
The draw took Maccabi to four points, tied with Dundalk in second place. The Irish side lost 2-1 to Zenit, which won its fourth consecutive game, sealing first place in the group. AZ has two points.
Maccabi visits Zenit in Russia in two-and-a-half weeks and completes its group games when it welcomes Dundalk on December 8.
On Monday, Hapoel Kfar Saba hosts Bnei Sakhnin.