(photo credit: )
Barak Itzhaki saved Betar Jerusalem's blushes once again on Sunday night, equalizing in the 85th minute to give his team a 2-2 draw and a share of the spoils with Bnei Sakhnin at the Doha Stadium.
Betar, which had won all three of its league matches' prior to Sunday, got off to a flying start, with Romulo clinically heading his team in front in the second minute. The reigning champion, however, was outplayed by the modest Sakhnin for the remainder of the first half, with Ilya Yavroyan and Maor Buzaglo scoring in the 15th and 44th minute to give their team a deserved lead. Jerusalem did, nevertheless, have the last laugh, with Itzhaki leveling the score with a classic poacher's goal.
"We're not going to win all our matches this season," Betar coach Yitzhak Schum said. "There will be matches in which we don't play well and lose. I'm glad that we managed to collect a point tonight in a game in which we played poorly."
Sakhnin climbs to third place in the standings thanks to its spirited display, with Betar remaining on top, one point clear of Maccabi Petah Tikva.
"We're disappointed, but we can't forget that we were playing Betar," Buzaglo said after the match.
Betar ran rampant at the start of the match and took the lead 100 seconds into the game. Itzhaki stole the ball from Basem Ganaem and crossed accurately for Romulo who powerfully headed the ball beyond the 'keeper.
Sakhnin shook off its early jitters as the match progressed and leveled the scored after 15 minutes. Yavroyan was given far too much space by the Betar defense and sent his right footed shot into the bottom left corner of Tvrtko Kale's goal.
Sakhnin wasn't content with its equalizer and Buzaglo almost gave his team the lead in the 26th minute. The gifted midfielder easily raced past two defenders, but his disappointing left footed shot was collected by Kale. Buzaglo's excellent run was, however, a sign of things to come, with the teenager eventually giving his side a well earned lead a minute before the interval.
Buzaglo elegantly hopped over Yoav Ziv's challenge and released a thunderous shot from a difficult angle straight through Kale's hands.
Schum introduced Milovan Mirosevic and Aviram Bruchian after the break, but Jerusalem failed to display anything close to the form that helped it win its first three matches of the season.
Sakhnin began to tire in the latter stages of the second half and Betar took full advantage five minutes before the final whistle.
Zandberg headed down Bruchian's deflected cross and Itzhaki steered the ball under helpless keeper Meir Cohen.
Yavroyan almost gave the hosts all three points in the 88th minute, but his shot went out off the right post and the match ended in a fair draw.