Betar Boateng 224.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Putting the controversy over the booing of Yitzhak Rabin behind it, Betar Jerusalem continued on its march to a second successive Israeli Premier League title on Saturday night, sweeping past a weak Hapoel Kfar Saba side 4-0 at Teddy Stadium.
Itzhak Schum's side finally played the top quality and imperious soccer expected of the Israeli champion in the second half, after some poor performances in recent matches. Idan Tal, Romulo, Toto Tamuz and Gal Alberman got the goals for the home side. Betar captain David Amsalem, who came on as a second half substitute for injured right back Cristian Alvarez, admitted his team had not been playing well in recent weeks and the result was a relief.
"I feel we played some fantastic soccer, moving the ball about well," Amsalem told The Jerusalem Post. "We haven't been playing well recently and the players needed this extra push to make them feel a little better."
Meanwhile, Bnei Yehuda coach Nitzan Shirazi quit his club on Saturday night following his team's 2-1 defeat at home to Maccabi Netanya.
Also Saturday, Maccabi Haifa won its third in a row, beating Maccabi Herzliya 1-0 through a 60th minute Eduardo Renato goal.
Maccabi Petah Tikva remains in second place, five points behind Betar, after winning 3-1 at Ashdod SC. Alain Masudi scored the opener for Ashdod, but Israel international Omer Golan replied for Petah Tikva on the stroke of half time and goals from Blessing Kaku and Ohad Kadusi gave the visitors the win.
The bottom two clubs, Hapoel and Maccabi Tel Aviv, both did not play on Saturday. Maccabi faces a tough trip to Bnei Sakhnin on Sunday, while Hapoel welcomes Ironi Kiryat Shmona to Bloomfield on Monday following its impressive defeat of Spanish side Getafe in the UEFA Cup on Thursday.
Betar Jerusalem 4, Hapoel Kfar Saba 0
Both teams had looked unlikely to score in a poor first half until former Bolton midfileder Tal, who had been having another torrid game, struck a sweet shot from just inside the area after Kfar Saba 'keeper Ohad Levita had saved from Romulo.
The second half was an altogether different affair, with Betar playing a fluid, passing game which stretched the visitors at every opportunity.
Kfar Saba's Brazilian defender Lira was sent off for pulling down Amit Ben-Shushan ten meters outside the penalty area just before the hour mark. Romulo made it 2-0 from the resulting free kick, slotting in the rebound after Levita had pummeled away Derek Boateng's effort.
From then on it was all Betar, with Gal Alberman and then Toto Tamuz both scoring in the last ten minutes.
Kfar Saba coach Eli Ohana, who starred for Betar as a player in the 1980s and '90s, said he believed his team matched the league leader in the first half and that the result did not reflect the game.
"It was a little bit painful to see us lose 4-0," Ohana said. "I think we even played a little better in the first half, but Betar is the best team in Israel and it is extremely difficult to beat them, especially here at Teddy and with ten men."
Maccabi Herzliya 0, Maccabi Haifa 1
The Greens now look like a different team from the one that lost its first three games of the Premier League season.
Dekel Keinan had the first chance for the visitors in the eighth minute, but his header sailed wide. It wasn't until 21 minutes into the match when the host side had its first real effort, but Kfir Edri's long range shot missed the target. Haifa had a controversial penalty call turned down half an hour into the game when Chaim Malka handled in the box as he was turning away from the ball and the referee waved play on.
Haifa increased the pressure in the second half and it paid off. Renato picked up the ball some 25 meters out, ran towards the Herzliya goal and fired past 'keeper Itamar Nitzan.
Maccabi Haifa coach Roni Levy was satisfied with the performance and improvement of his team in recent weeks.
"After all we have been through we have come together to become a better team. I hope that by the end of the year we will be in a good position. It wasn't an easy game, Herzliya is a strong team. We didn't start well, but in the second half we improved and got more opportunities and in the end the goal we needed."
Bnei Yehuda 1, Maccabi Netanaya 2
Former Hapoel Tel Aviv coach Guy Luzon is already being tipped to replace Shirazi at Bnei Yehuda after Shirazi quit the club on Saturday. It was Bnei Yehuda's sixth defeat in a row. Another name being mentioned is Israeli assistant coach Moshe Sinai. Yehiel Tzagai put the visitors ahead in the eighth minute and Tal Maabi made it 2-0 to Netanya in the 65th. Imoro Lokman pulled one back for Bnei Yehuda but it was not enough.
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>