Eran Levy 390.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
A 93rd-minute penalty by Eran Levy gave Betar Jerusalem a critical 1- 0 victory
over Ironi Kiryat Shmona at Teddy Stadium on Saturday night, snapping the
Premier League leader’s unbeaten streak at 25 matches.
Betar was heading
towards a sixth straight league match without a goal until Kiryat Shmona’s Shir
Tzedek needlessly handled the ball in the box, handing substitute Levy a chance
he wouldn’t squander.
Jerusalem was at least equal to Kiryat Shmona
throughout the match at a cold and wet Teddy, which says more about the
northerners’ play than it does of Betar’s.
But the hosts never really
forced ‘keeper Danny Amos into a difficult save and seemed destined to lose
important ground on fellow-struggles Hapoel Haifa and Hapoel Beersheba after
both had won their matches earlier.
All that changed when Levy slotted
the ball beyond Amos to give Betar its first win in six matches and hand Kiryat
Shmona its first defeat since August 27 when it lost 3-1 to Maccabi Netanya in
the second weekend of the season.
“This win can swing the momentum and
prove to be a turning point in our season,” said Betar coach Eli Cohen, who won
for the first time since replacing Yuval Naim less than three weeks ago.“We
canceled out Kiryat Shmona and the players deserve a lot of credit.
are still lacking a cutting edge in front of goal, but we are working on
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Despite the defeat, Kiryat Shmona is still well on course to
winning a historic championship, remaining 14 points ahead of second-placed
Hapoel Tel Aviv with nine matches left in the season.
Hapoel can close
the gap to 11 points when it hosts Maccabi Tel Aviv in the local derby on Monday
“I’m very disappointed, but this is part of life,” said Kiryat
Shmona coach Ran Ben-Shimon, who was adamant that Tzedek’s hand-ball should not
have resulted in a penalty. “We were poor and we lost and now we need to
Hapoel Beersheba remained one point ahead of Betar and the
relegation zone with a 2-1 home win over Ashdod SC courtesy of Lotem Zino’s
Idan Shriki gave Ashdod the lead after 14 minutes, but
Yossi Shivhon scored a deserved equalizer in the 71st before Zino struck deep
into stoppage time 10 minutes after coming on as a substitute.
Haifa remained just in front of the rest of the pack with a 2-0 victory over
Hapoel Ramat Hasharon, its third straight win.
Yuval Avidor (67) and
Hanan Maman (80) scored for Haifa, which despite its recent run is just three
points clear of the bottom three.
Maccabi Petah Tikva snapped a
three-match losing streak on Saturday, but its 2- 2 draw at Bnei Yehuda saw it
drop to 13th place, only a point off the relegation zone.
Victor Merey (54) and Omer Golan (63) gave Petah Tikva the lead at Bloomfield
Stadium, canceling out Pedro Galvan’s third-minute opener.
Galvan scored his second of the night 10 minutes from time to further complicate
Petah Tikva’s situation ahead of next weekend’s showdown with Betar
Hapoel Rishon Lezion maintained hope of top-flight survival
with a 1-0 road win over rock-bottom Hapoel Petah Tikva on
Rishon lost Gheorghe Ovseannicov to a red card in the 34th
minute, but Asi Baldut scored the only goal of the match in the 49th and Rishon
closed to within five points of safety.
Also Saturday, Maccabi Netanya
recorded an important win in the battle for a top-eight finish and a place in
the championship playoffs, defeating Bnei Sakhnin 3-1.
Hen Ezra (29),
Ahmed Saba (67) and Kobi Dajani (81) scored for the winners, with Eric Gawu (71)
netting for Sakhnin.
Maccabi Haifa visits Hapoel Acre on Sunday.
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