beitar zandberg 88.
(photo credit: )
Betar Jerusalem was held to a 0-0 draw in a home Premier League match for the fifth time this season on Sunday night when it failed to dent the goal of Bnei Yehuda at Teddy Stadium. Just like two weeks ago, when the league leader drew 0-0 with Maccabi Petah Tikva, Betar's passionate fans booed the players off the pitch, expecting more from the team bankrolled by billionaire Arkadi Gaydamak.
When Maccabi Tel Aviv held Betar to a goalless draw at Teddy in December, the visiting coach Eli Cohen was accused of employing bunker-style tactics. Two months later, it has become clear that the problem lies with home coach Yossi Mizrahi, who has found it difficult to inspire his team to do what they need to do most - score goals.
Betar remains in first place in the standings and Bnei Yehuda ninth. With the lack of a strong challenger, Betar is the favorite to take the league title in May, but the team's lack of exciting soccer and a dearth of goals at home has frustrated the home supporters. On Monday, Maccabi Haifa visits Hapoel Kfar Saba and Maccabi Petah Tikva hosts Hapoel Tel Aviv to wrap up Matchday 22 and the second round of the Premier League.
On Sunday, the game got underway in blustery and slightly foggy conditions with yellow ticker tape the home fans had thrown into the air during the national anthem swirling around Bnei Yehuda 'keeper Vincent Enyeama's goal.
Michael Zandberg had the first shot on goal for the hosts, a speculative effort from outside the area in the third minute which was easily pushed away for a corner by Enyeama. Zandberg's midfield partner, Gal Alberman, then had an easy chance to take the lead from the corner but headed wide.
Betar started the game the liveliest, pushing towards goal at every opportunity, while the visitors were finding it hard to carve out even a single scoring chance. It was even for most of the first half with former Bnei Yehuda left back Roni Gafni, who moved to team from the capital last summer, regularly at fault with his crosses from the left wing failing to find their target.
After 17 minutes, referee Asaf Binan turned down a certain penalty call for the home side when Bnei Yehuda right back Imoro Lokman clearly blocked a Zandberg cross with his hand in the area.
With just over half an hour gone, the visitors had their best chance to take the lead. Ex-Betar forward Lior Asulin, who had a point to prove after being sent away from the Jerusalem club last summer, surged through the Betar defense with only goalkeeper Itzik Korenfein to beat, but watched his soft shot trickle past the right post.
Ten minutes later, Kleber Schwenk should have made it 1-0 for the hosts when Toto Tamuz headed the ball down for him a meter in front of the goal. However, the hapless Brazilian striker, who has yet to score in the league since his move in January, clattered his shot against the post.
The fruitless Betar team left the field at halftime to boos from disgruntled home supporters.
The second half started in a similarly sloppy style as neither team was able to hold on to the ball or string more than a few passes together.
Betar had its second penalty appeal turned down on 63 minutes when Salem Abu Siam appeared to touch the ball with his hand in the area but replays showed the referee made a good decision this time.
As time ticked away, Betar began controlling the game, creating more and more opportunities. However, it felt like luck was against the home team when Assi Domb appeared to foul Zandberg in the area after 65 minutes, but no penalty was called despite the protests of the Betar players.
A couple of minutes later, substitute Amit Ben-Shushan was only centimeters away from connecting with a Tamuz cross which zipped across the goal mouth.
The introduction of Ben-Shushan, Aviram Bruchian and Tuto Roschel halfway through the second half added some verve to the home club's play, but it was not enough. For the entire last half hour, Betar produced waves of attacks but lacked the final quality cross or shot and the game ended scoreless.