Toto Tamuz 311.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Hapoel Tel Aviv continued to struggle on Sunday night, but it still edged bitter- rival Betar Jerusalem 1-0 at Bloomfield Stadium to climb into second place in the Premier League standings.
After surprisingly winning its first two matches, Betar controlled the first half at Bloomfield, but it failed to convert its chances and Hapoel punished the Jerusalemites after they tired in the second half.
Omer Damari scored the winner in the 77th minute after excellent build up play by Toto Tamuz and Hapoel held on for a hard-fought win.
“This was a tough match against a good team,” said Damari, who admitted that Hapoel will have to show significant improvement on Thursday if it has any intention of beating Rapid Bucharest in its Europa League group stage opener at Bloomfield.
“It was important for us to get off to a fast start, but we didn’t begin
the match well. We weren’t great tonight, but we took all three points
and that’s what counts.”
Despite the defeat, Betar fans remained at Bloomfield long after the
final whistle to thank their team for another brave performance.
“We didn’t have a proper pre-season and we are still trying to catch up
when it comes to fitness levels,” Betar coach Yuval Naim explained.
“Nevertheless, we did our best to challenge Hapoel and it is a shame we
conceded a needless goal.
I’m a big believer in this squad and if we continue to give our all in every match I believe we will record good results.”
It didn’t take Betar long to realize that it had no reason to fear Hapoel.
Betar’s first real chance arrived in the 16th minute when Aviram
Bruchian had space and time just inside the Hapoel box, but he could do
no better than fire his shot straight at keeper Apoula Edel.
The visitors were the more dangerous side throughout the first half, but
they lacked cutting edge and a mistake by their new signing almost cost
them dearly seven minutes from halftime.
Argentinian defender Miguel Portillo sent his clearance straight to the
feet of Damari, but the Hapoel striker sent his shot wide and there was
nothing to separate the sides at the break.
Hapoel coach Dror Kashtan introduced Mirko Oremus at the start of the
second half and the Croatian midfielder almost set up the opener seven
minutes after the interval. Oremus sliced the Betar defense, but Nosa
Igiebor took far too long on the ball when he only had goalkeeper Ariel
Harush to beat.
Jerusalem’s players visibly tired as the match progressed and Hapoel seized control of the proceedings.
Hapoel pushed more players forward and in the 77th minute finally broke the deadlock.
Former Betar striker Tamuz single handedly cut the Jerusalem defense
before squaring the ball for Damari, who was at the right place at the
right time to tuck in the winner from the goal mouth and give Hapoel all
three points after yet another mediocre performance.