(photo credit: )
Betar Jerusalem and Hapoel Tel Aviv battled out a draw at Bloomfield Stadium, the sixth out of six Premier League games in Matchday 13 to end in a draw.
Hapoel, which qualified for the knockout stage of the UEFA Cup with a 1-1 last week, remained in fifth place in the standings, while Betar returned to the top of the table, leapfrogging Ashdod SC, with which it is tied on points.
Chilean midfielder Milovan Mirosevic scored for Betar with a fantastic strike early in the first half, but just a few minutes into the second period Yossi Abuksis equalized from the penalty spot and the game ended in a stalemate.
While Betar was able to put its strongest team out, Tel Aviv was plagued by injuries, making no less than six changes from the team that drew with Mlad Boleslav on Thursday. Defender Tomer Haliva and influential midfielder Salim Toema were among those unable to play.
The game started slowly as both teams appeared cautious in attack, but soon the pace changed and just three minutes into the match, Hapoel veteran Walid Badier came just centimeters away from giving the hosts the lead when he slid in at the far post from an Abuksis free kick.
Four minutes later, Toto Tamuz had an opportunity to score for Betar but was unable to slot past Hapoel 'keeper Shavit Elimelech and angered teammate Michael Zandberg, who was in a more open position.
The match exploded into life in the 13th minute. Mirosevic fired a stunning volley past Elimelech from the edge of the penalty area after right back Yoav Ziv had crossed the ball from the right wing.
Abuksis came close to equalizing for Hapoel in the 27th minute, but his fierce shot from 20 meters out was tipped over by Betar goalkeeper Itzik Kornfein.
The second half began in controversial fashion when Betar left back David Amsalem was sent off for holding down Elyaniv Barda in the penalty area in the 46th minute. The Hapoel fans behind the goal inexplicably reacted by throwing firecrackers onto the pitch, one of which hit Tel Aviv's own Abuksis on the leg and injured him.
For about five minutes, Abuksis lay on a stretcher on the side of the field looking like he was seriously injured. But he managed to recover, got up and easily slotted home the penalty to tie the score.
Following the goal, the midfield battle began to intensify, with Mirosevic and Baruch Dego becoming entangled on a number of occasions.
As the clock ticked down, the pace of the game picked up, reflecting the tense atmosphere in the stadium.
Michael Zandberg nearly put Betar back in front after 73 minutes but, even though he had an open goal, managed to head over the bar from inside the box.
As the match entered the 91st minute, the tension mounted as the fourth official indicated that there would be seven minutes of time added on, mostly due to Abuksis's injury break at the start of the second half.
Betar midfielder Derek Boateng reacted the quickest, seeming to energize himself and skip past three defenders deep into the Hapoel half before unleashing a strong shot that was deflected away for a corner.
Barda should have won the game for the hosts two minutes from the final whistle when Abuksis lobbed a cross into the area, but the striker was unable to connect.