Beitar Jerusalem striker Zarko Korac.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Beitar Jerusalem extended its unbeaten start to the Premier League season on Thursday night, but once more dropped points against an opponent it expects to beat.
Beitar was flying high following Monday’s 2-0 win against Hapoel Tel Aviv at Bloomfield Stadium. However, it could only manage a 1-1 draw against lowly Maccabi Netanya at Teddy Stadium on Thursday, its fourth draw in six matches this season. While it has beaten Maccabi Haifa and Hapoel Tel Aviv this term, Jerusalem has failed to defeat Hapoel Acre, Ashdod SC and Netanya.
Zarko Korac gave Jerusalem the lead in the 27th minute following a Cristian Sarghi mistake. However, Olarenwaju Kayode leveled the score with a clinical finish in the 39th minute and Beitar couldn’t find a winner.
Also Thursday, Hapoel Tel Aviv rebounded from its defeat to Beitar with a 1-0 win at Hapoel Petah Tikva. Sagiv Yehezkel scored the only goal of the match in the 15th minute.
Premier League action continues on Saturday, with Maccabi Haifa hoping to stop the rot when it visits Maccabi Petah Tikva after losing its past three matches and four of its first six contests.
Despite its off-season overhaul, which included the signing of Serbian coach Aleksandar Stanojevic and the return of Yossi Benayoun, Haifa got its campaign off to a terrible start for a fourth straight year, already all but losing all hope of challenging for the title.
Haifa finds itself 10 points behind league-leader Ironi Kiryat Shmoa after falling 2-0 at Hapoel Beersheba on Tuesday.
The Greens have started each of the past four seasons with a different coach, picking up what then seemed like a disappointing 10 points from its first six games in 2011/12 under Elisha Levy before ending the campaign in fifth place.
Levy, who had previously won two championships at the club, made way for Reuven Atar, who saw his team collect a mere five points from its opening six contests before eventually being sacked after claiming just a single victory from nine matches.
Arik Benado replaced Atar and helped the team to a second-place finish. But he only lasted one more year, being fired after the end of last season following another frustrating campaign which began with eight points from six encounters and ended once more in fifth position.
With just six points from six matches to date, Stanojevic’s start is only barely better than the one recorded by Atar and if the team doesn’t register a significant improvement soon he could find himself following in his footsteps.
Benayoun, who has played only one match so far this season due to a knee injury, is a doubt for Saturday, but Stanojevic admitted there will be no excuse should the Greens yet again fail to pick up all three points.
“I’ve never been in a situation like this in my career,” said Stanojevic. “I’m very happy that the club is supporting me, but of course I do not feel good. I believe in my players, but they must show respect for the club. They have to play for the fans and the club, not for me.”
Also Saturday, Hapoel Beersheba can move up to first place for at least 48 hours should it beat Hapoel Acre on the road.
Ashdod SC hosts Hapoel Ra’anana and Bnei Sakhnin visits Hapoel Haifa.
First place Kiryat Shmona doesn’t host Beitar Jerusalem until Monday night, when Hapoel and Maccabi Tel Aviv also face-off in the derby.
Netanya will welcome Hapoel Petah Tikva on Sunday.