(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Maccabi Tel Aviv and Betar Jerusalem shared the spoils on Sunday night at Bloomfield Stadium in a match which both teams needed to win.
The single point takes Tel Aviv just three points above the relegation zone, while Betar's gap over second-placed Maccabi Netanya is now only six points wide.
The 0-0 draw at Bloomfield was a lively affair, but poor finishing by both teams meant the match would inevitably end in a goalless deadlock.
Both teams have the chance to put matters right next week when they play crucial matches. Jerusalem hosts Maccabi Haifa at Teddy Stadium and Tel Aviv visits Bnei Yehuda in a six-point relegation battle.
Just 60 seconds into the game Betar striker Romulo squandered a golden opportunity. He had plenty of space on the edge of the box, but he completely fluffed his shot to the dismay of the Jerusalem fans sitting behind the goal.
In the 14th minute Maccabi's new-signing Jonathan Assous had the team's first chance of the night after stealing the ball in the middle of the field. He would, however, shoot at goal rather than pass the ball to one of his surging teammates.
Besides that one poor decision, Assous was superb in the defensive midfielders' position on Sunday and his performance will have surely encouraged coach Nir Levin, who had desperately been lacking a player of Assous's quality in the center of the pitch.
Tel Aviv had the lions' share of the possession as the half progressed and five minutes after its first opportunity the team came close once more. Rudy Haddad latched on to a poor Betar clearance, but could only blast his shot wide of Tvrtko Kale's goal.
However, the final chance of the half fell to Jerusalem's Aviram Bruchian, who failed to turn in Idan Tal's excellent cross from a mere five meters out.
The visitors built on their good ending to the first half at the start of the second and were by far the more dangerous side. In the 56th minute Amit Ben-Shushan came inches from Bruchian's accurate cross, only to be beaten to the ball by the hosts' defense. Three minutes passed and Bruchian was once more at the center of things, this time setting-up Alvarez, who shot straight at 'keeper Dragoslav Jevric.
Maccabi's scoring opportunities were rare in the second half, but in the 69th minute Yannick Kamanan should have given his team the lead. The Frenchman surged past the Betar defense, but couldn't get the better of Kale, hitting his shot straight at the Betar 'keeper.
Two minutes later Jerusalem had what would prove to be its last real chance of the match when Michael Zandberg's build-up play ended with a Romulo shot that was only just cleared off the line by the Tel Aviv defense.
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