(photo credit: P. BROYD ARCHITECT, GOLDSHMIDT ARDITI BEN NAIM ARCHITECTS)
Beitar Jerusalem and Hapoel Tel Aviv continued their disappointing seasons with yet another mediocre performance at Teddy Stadium on Monday night, drawing 1-1 in Premier League action.
Beitar has lost only one of its first 10 matches, but it registered its sixth draw of the season on Monday, once more failing to combine two consecutive wins.
Jerusalem remained in fifth place, moving to 15 points, after Itay Shechter’s 40th-minute goal canceled out Omri Altman’s penalty in the 15th minute.
Tel Aviv is still only one place above the relegation zone, increasing its gap over Bnei Yehuda and Hapoel Ashkelon to three points.
“I’m slightly disappointed because we were denied a penalty at the end and we were the ones who reached the better chances,” said Hapoel coach Guy Luzon.
“We deserved all three points, but there is no point in complaining. Anyone connected with Hapoel can be proud of the team’s performance today.
“The players gave their all and played with confidence at a difficult stadium. We caused Beitar to play poorly and we need to build on this and continue to improve.”
Chances were at a premium at the start of the match, but Hapoel would take the lead with its first opportunity.
Israel Zaguri was brought down in the box by David Keltjens and Altman broke the deadlock from the spot in the 15th minute.
Hapoel had a golden opportunity to double its lead five minutes later, but despite only having goalkeeper Boris Kleyman to beat, Zaguri was denied by the stopper.
A two-goal cushion could have been a significant step towards Hapoel’s first win at Teddy since May 2010, when Eran Zahavi’s stoppage-time winner gave the club its last league title in the final day of the season. Kleyman required another good save to deny Zaguri 10 minutes from the break and Beitar would equalize five minutes later.
Understanding that he made a mistake with the team’s formation, coach Ran Ben-Shimon made a tactical change and substituted Lidor Cohen for Claudemir after just 25 minutes. Beitar seized control and Shechter scored a deserved equalizer from close range in the 40th minute, although the host needed another Kleyman save, this time on Damir Sovsic, to ensure it wasn’t trailing at the break.
Beitar’s defense was caught napping yet again 10 minutes into the second half, but once more Kleyman came to the rescue, denying Altman.
Both teams seemed content with a single point after that, taking few risks, seemingly more concerned about losing than winning.
Mac TA preps for Zenit Elsewhere, a reinvigorated Maccabi Tel Aviv leaves for Russia on Tuesday ahead of Thursday’s Europa League game against Zenit St. Petersburg.
Maccabi snapped a three-match winless streak without a goal in league action with a 2-1 victory over Ironi Kiryat Shmona on Sunday night thanks to Vidar Orn Kjartansson’s stoppage-time winner.
Kjartansson netted a brace after Kiryat Shmona had taken an early lead.
Maccabi drew 0-0 with AZ Alkmaar in its last Europa match, moving to four points, tied with Dundalk in second place. Zenit has already wrapped up first place, winning its first four games, including coming back from a 3-0 deficit in the opener against Maccabi in Netanya.
“The win took a lot of pressure off of us and it was great to be able to celebrate the way we did at the end of the match. It’s been a long time since we were so happy,” said Maccabi midfielder Avi Rikan.
“There have been many matches where we played very well and didn’t take any points, let’s be happy with the three points, improve and look ahead as this win will give all of us some confidence.”