Two second-half goals in the space of five minutes gave Betar Jerusalem a 3-2 comeback victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv Sunday night at the National Stadium in Ramat Gan.
Even though Betar's performance was mediocre, it never gave up after falling behind twice, with Maccabi 'keeper Liran Strauber making a pair of errors to help the visitors.
Betar has now won five of its last six matches and is tied for second place with Hapoel Tel Aviv in the Premier League, 10 points behind reigning champion Maccabi Haifa.
Maccabi, on the other hand, is just one of its last six and coach Nir Klinger's days at the club are looking numbered. Klinger may well be out of a job by next week if he fails to get a positive result in the derby match against Hapoel.
Thousands of Maccabi fans chanted at the end of the match for Klinger's resignation and they may not tolerate another negative result.
After a dull first 10 minutes, Maccabi midfielder Eugin Trica had the first chance of scoring in the match. Trica had a free header from five meters out, but his tame effort went straight to the hands of 'keeper Itzik Kornfein.
Maccabi made the breakthrough in the 18th minute. Nimni crossed the ball into the penalty box, where Jose Duarte headed the ball to Trica, who hit a right-footed shot beyond Kornfein.
Twelve minutes after falling behind, Betar scored an equalizer from its only genuine chance of the half. Midfielder Barak Itzhaki squared the ball to Mezua Ensombo, whose shot towards the goal was deflected off Nimni and into the net beyond Liran Strauber.
Nimni quickly made up for his mistake six minutes later when he put Maccabi ahead once again. Yuval Spongin lobbed the ball toward the left corner of the box and Nimni blasted the ball into the right corner of the net.
The second half began much like the first as neither team created chances in front of goal, but 16 minutes from the end, Betar took advantage of the first of Strauber's gaffes. Midfielder Aviram Brochian shot to the center of the goal from 25 meters out but a disoriented Strauber - whose vision of the shot was blocked by two of his players - misread the deflected shot and helplessly watched the ball go into the net.
Two minutes later Betar had the lead. Itzhaki picked up the ball in the right corner of the box and his cross towards goal ended up flying over an embarrassed Strauber's head.
Nimni tried to salvage a tie for Maccabi at the end, but his powerful shot two minutes from time was well-saved by Kornfein, ending any hope for Maccabi to salvage a draw.
Fernandez signs Lens captain for Betar
Luis Fernandez is wasting no time in his new job as Betar Jerusalem manager.
The French legend has already managed to convince Jerome Leroy, the captain of French Ligue 1 side Lens, to join the yellow-and-black right away.
Leroy played for Fernandez in 1995, when the latter served as a coach for Paris St. Germain. The 31-year-old midfielder, who will be counted upon to lead Betar's midfield with his physical play and vast experience, is expected to arrive in Israel in the next few days and sign with the club.
The move also means that Adam Kapich is on his way out, as he has failed to impress the coaching staff since his signing last month.
Fernandez has been scouting after many players in Spain and France lately and more signings are expected in the near future.
Sharon Solomon contributed to this report.
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