Betar Mirosevic 88.
(photo credit: )
Bnei Yehuda put up a spirited fight against Betar Jerusalem but two Barak Itzhaki goals in the last two minutes gave the team from the capital a 3-1 Premier League victory at Bloomfield Stadium Sunday night.
Betar retained the seven-point lead over Maccabi Tel Aviv it held entering Matchday 27. With six games left, Betar is in full control of its own destiny and the dream of its first league title since 1998 is close to becoming a reality.
Bnei Yehuda stayed precariously close to the relegation zone in ninth place.
Betar coach Yossi Mizrahi's decision to introduce youngsters Aviram Bruchian, Itzhaki and Toto Tamuz as substitutes in the final quarter changed the face of the game.
"We played well today," Mizrahi said. "It wasn't great in the first half, but in the second, we created many opportunities and I am happy we won.
We still have six more games left and there are still teams who are in the race with us for the championship but we won well and kept our distance from the other teams."
The game had sprung to life from kickoff when Bnei Yehuda broke forward with intent.
After 11 minutes, the hosts came close with an Asi Baldut freekick which Betar 'keeper Itzik Korenfein deflected over the crossbar. The opening goal came from the resulting corner.
Reuven Oved crossed the ball and Ghanaian forward Imoro Lokman rushed in at the far post in front of Betar's Milovan Mirosevic to volley into the goal. Korenfein scooped the ball away but it had already crossed the line.
Betar equalized seven minutes later from a Michael Zandberg corner. Arik Benado headed the ball down to Mirosevic, who volleyed past Bnei Yehuda 'keeper Vincent Enyeama with aplomb.
After an entertaining first period, the second half was largely uneventful.
With seven minutes left, Zandberg thought he had scored the winner for Betar when the ball came to him inside the area from a Itzhaki cross, but his shot clattered against the crossbar.
Jerusalem took the lead with two minutes left. A sweet move involving Bruchian and Mirosevic put Itzhaki clean through and the young striker slotted home for the league leader.
Two minutes later, Itzhaki scored again. With the Bnei Yehuda defenders concentrating on Tamuz, who was offside, Itzhaki received the ball from Bruchian and scored easily from three meters out.