Betar Jeruslaem's Hen Azriel 370.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Betar Jerusalem claimed a memorable 2-0 victory over Hapoel Tel Aviv at
Bloomfield Stadium on Monday night, recording its third straight win and
extending its unbeaten run to eight matches to close within seven points of the
Premier League summit.
Hapoel could have leapfrogged Maccabi Tel Aviv
into first place with a win, but it created little to nothing against Betar’s
well-organized formation and the visitors clinched the three points with two
Hen Azriel’s effort from the edge of the area caught Hapoel
goalkeeper Apoula Edel by surprise in the 74th minute and Avi Rikan secured the
three points six minutes later before Hapoel’s Eric Djemba Djemba was sent off
for elbowing Dario Fernandez.
“I’ve realized a childhood dream by winning
at Bloomfield,” said Rikan.
Hapoel and Betar also met at Bloomfield the
night before the last elections in February 2009, but it didn’t take long to
realize that there would be no repeat of Tel Aviv’s 4-0 thrashing four years
The hosts had no intention of allowing Betar to catch it off-guard
with its swift breaks forward and Jerusalem was adamant at sitting back and
forcing Hapoel to play a patient passing game it has struggled with this
Hapoel coach Yossi Abuksis brought in Toto Tamuz at the start of
the second half, but that did nothing to change the pattern of the game
established from the first whistle.
Betar was happy to patiently wait for
its chance and it made the most of it when if finally arrived in the 74th
The ball fell to Azriel’s feet on the edge of the box and his
shot took a slight deflection off Djemba Djemba and got the better of Edel, who
should have really cleared the danger.
Betar clinched the victory six
minutes later, with Azriel breaking down the left flank before squaring the ball
perfectly for the incoming Rikan.
Djemba Djemba completed Hapoel’s
miserable night when he was shown a straight red card in the 83rd minute for
elbowing Fernandez to the delight of the Betar supporters who remained in the
stadium long after the final whistle to celebrate a sweet win.
Monday, Maccabi Tel Aviv agreed with Italian side Palermo on the transfer of
Eran Zahavi, who is set to sign a three-and-a-half year deal.
signing will be especially painful for Hapoel Tel Aviv as he played a key role
in the club’s 2009/10 championship winning campaign.