Beitar Jerusalem striker Itay Shechter..
(photo credit: ERAN LUF)
After off-field happenings involving Beitar Jerusalem dominated the sporting headlines over recent days, the team returned the focus to the field on Monday night, beating Maccabi Haifa 3-0 in Petah Tikva to further solidify its hold on third place in the Premier League standings.
Beitar moved 10 points clear of Hapoel Ra’anana in fourth place with a convincing win in a match which was in doubt until Sunday night.
Beitar dropped its threat to fail to show up for the game after insisting for days that it would do so. The club was unhappy at being forced to host the contest away from Teddy Stadium due to the unruly behavior of its supporters in the game against Bnei Sakhnin.
Only following a meeting between Premier League club representatives on Sunday, it was announced that the match would go ahead as planned.
Police said it would be responsible for the safety of the fans in the match and the clubs agreed that they would work together with the Israel Football Association to change the regulations so that teams will not be so easily sentenced to host games away from their home stadium.
After Haifa squandered two early golden opportunities to take the lead on Monday, Itay Shechter scored the opener in the 32nd minute, an especially sweet goal for the striker after leaving Haifa for Jerusalem just last month. Nikita Rukavytsya made it 2-0 six minutes into the second half, with Dan Einbinder capping the victory seven minutes from time.
After a frustrating year at Maccabi Haifa, Shechter was allowed to leave in the January transfer window and has looked like a completely different player since. He started just six of Haifa’s first 19 league matches, failing to score a single goal while being sent off twice.
The 28-year-old forward was handed a place in Beitar’s lineup two days after signing with the club and in four matches with the side he has scored two goals and registered three assists.
Earlier Monday, Hapoel Haifa named Eli Cohen as its new head coach.
Meir Ben-Margi, who guided the team for two months following the sacking of Tal Banin, will return to his previous role as an assistant coach.