Beitar Jerusalem’s Brazilian midfielder Claudemir (right) (Danny Maron photo credit).
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Beitar Jerusalem will enter next Sunday’s showdown with Hapoel Beersheba at Turner Stadium within just a single point of the two-time reigning champion and the summit of the Premier League standings after defeating Bnei Yehuda 2-0 at an empty Teddy Stadium on Monday night.
Beitar’s Brazilian midfielder Claudemir broke the deadlock in the 72nd minute, nine minutes after Bnei Yehuda lost Maor Kandil to a red card.
Kandil received two yellow cards within three minutes, the second of which for foolishly stopping the ball with his hand in the center of the field.
Itay Shechter did all the hard work to set up Claudemir’s opener, with the Brazilian’s shot from the edge of the area taking a deflection off Bnei Yehuda’s Ben Turgeman and leaving goalkeeper Emilijus Zubas helpless.
Slovakian striker Jakub Sylvestr, who joined in the January transfer window, clinched the three points in stoppage time and the loud speakers at Teddy blasted out the sound of celebrating fans at the final whistle, with the match being played in front of empty stands after Beitar was punished by the Israel Football Association’s disciplinary court for the unruly behavior of its supporters.
Beitar improved to 49 points, one back of Beersheba and one ahead of Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Hapoel Haifa is in fourth place, four points from the top.
Bnei Yehuda remained in sixth, tied on points with Maccabi Netanya in fifth, and is still on course to qualify for the championship playoffs.
In other soccer news, the Israel Football Association announced on Monday that the UEFA Nations League match against Albania on October 14 will be held at Turner Stadium, the first time an official competitive match by the blue-and-white senior side will be played in Beersheba.
Israel was drawn last month with Scotland and Albania in Group Four of League C of the new league competition for national teams. Israel begins its campaign at Albania on September 7 and will visit Northern Ireland in a friendly four days later.
The national side’s first home match against Scotland on October 11 will be played at Haifa Stadium, with the campaign’s second and final home encounter to be against the Albanians in Beersheba.
The four-tier tournament has been introduced by UEFA to replace international friendlies.
UEFA , concerned that international soccer is losing popularity to the club game, has said that the league will provide the top nations with more competitive matches against each other, as well as afford smaller nations another chance to qualify for the European Championships.
Although the new competition is played in addition to the European Championship qualifying competition, which starts in March 2019, it provides a back door to Euro 2020, with one team from each league earning a place at UEFA ’s flagship tournament.
In each league, the four group winners enter a playoff system, consisting of two semifinals and a final. The ultimate winner will qualify for Euro 2020.
Israel is still without a head coach after Elisha Levy’s contract wasn’t renewed following a disappointing 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign. The blueand- white finished Group G in fourth place, losing five of its final six games.
The IFA announced that Alon Hazan, the coach of Israel’s under-19 side, will guide the team in its friendly against Romania on March 24.