Ironi Kiryat Shmona.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Ironi Kiryat Shmona showed the heart of a champion on Saturday night, beginning
its Premier League title defense with a dramatic 3-2 victory over Betar
Jerusalem thanks to Salah Hasarma’s winner four minutes into injury
Kiryat Shmona raced into a 2-0 lead after just 10 minutes, but
Betar seemed to be heading towards a deserved point when Liron Diamant equalized
in the 90th minute.
However, the defending champion struck in the 94th
minute when Hasarma’s freekick from 20 meters out took a wicked deflection and
rolled into the back net beyond helpless ‘keeper Ariel Harush.
really happy we managed to claim this win,” said Kiryat Shmona coach Gili
Landau, whose team hosts BATE Borisov in the second leg of the Champions League
playoffs on Tuesday after losing the first leg 2-0 in Belarus.
to this match was in our attitude.
Teams often struggle in league play
after playing in Europe and it was important for us to display a balanced match.
Sometimes you have to claim ugly wins by the skin of your teeth and we did that
Kiryat Shmona needed just 40 seconds to score its first goal of
the season, with Barak Badash taking advantage of Betar’s weak
The match looked to be all but over in the 10th minute thanks to
Laszlo Lencse’s great finish from the edge of the area.
burst into life three minutes later after Avi Rikan scored what is an early
candidate for goal of the season, firing a unstoppable effort from 20 meters
Jerusalem was by far the more dangerous team in the second half,
with Kiryat Shmona goalkeeper Danny Amos singlehandedly keeping the hosts in
However, Betar leveled the score in the 90th minute when referee
Eitan Shmuelevitch dubiously allowed Diamant’s equalizer to stand even though
the linesman lifted his flag for an offside.
But justice was done four
minutes later when Kobi Moyal needlessly gifted Kiryat Shmona a free kick and
Hasarma’s deflected shot gave the hosts all three points.
“We played well
throughout the second half and deserved a draw and even a win,” said Betar coach
Eli Cohen. “This should have been our match, but this can happen in soccer. Our
inexperience cost us, but our young players proved themselves tonight and we
will improve with every match.”
Also Saturday, Hapoel Haifa and Maccabi
Netanya drew 0-0 at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium, with Hapoel Beersheba also only
managing a goalless deadlock at home against Bnei Sakhnin.
“We are all
very disappointed,” said new Beersheba coach Elisha Levy, who lost Diya Saba to
a red card in the 89th minute. “We had to rebuild this team in the summer and we
will have to be patient.”
Murad Abu Anza didn’t take long to prove that
he has the talent to play in the topflight after scoring twice on Saturday to
give Ashdod SC a 2-0 home victory over Hapoel Ramat Hasharon.
was one of the National League’s best players at Bnei Lod last season and the
25-year-old scored in the eighth and 52nd minutes, with midfielder Nir Biton,
who returned from trials at Manchester City and Tottenham, setting up both
Hapoel Acre and Bnei Yehuda drew 1-1 on Saturday, with Shalev
Menashe scoring on the brink of halftime before Nebojsa Marinkovic equalized
from the penalty spot three minutes into the second half.
Hapoel Tel Aviv
visits Hapoel Ramat Gan on Sunday, with Maccabi Tel Aviv hosting Maccabi Haifa