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Betar Boateng 224.88.(Photo by: AP)
Soccer: Betar Jerusalem storms to 4-2 victory
JEREMY LAST and sharon solomon
Jerusalem retains top position with dramatic win over Maccabi Herzliya; Bnei Yehuda and Hapoel TA draw 1-1; Sakhnin beats Netanya 2-1.
Betar Jerusalem retained its position at the top of the Israeli Premier League on Saturday night with a dramatic 4-2 win over Maccabi Herzliya in a pulsating match at Teddy Stadium in the capital on Saturday night. Herzliya took a shock 2-0 first half lead with goals by Chaim Malcah and Omer Bokseboim. But the visitors were reduced to ten men after Marcio Giovanini was sent off for a second yellow card ten minutes before half time and goals from Barak Itzhaki just before half time, two from Aviram Bruchian, who replaced the disappointing Idan Tal, and one from Brazilian striker Romulo gave the hosts the win. "We played much better in the second half and I am happy with my performance but I want to keep improving" Bruchian told The Jerusalem Post after the game. Betar coach Itzhak Schum was full of praise for Bruchian. "He is an excellent player and I hope he will give us even more in the future," he said. "When Betar plays at its best no one can stop us." Herzliya scored after just two minutes. A miskick by Arik Benado gave the visiting team a corner kick which was easily headed in by Malcah. Betar looked determined to fight its way back into the game, and Michael Zandberg shot forward with the ball from the kick off, but slipped in the penalty area and saw his penalty claims waved away by the referee. The crowd raised themselves to full voice in an effort to lift the home side, which was taking the brunt of continuous Herzliya attacks led by Maharan Radi in the center of the park. The home side was stunned just before the half hour. Radi sent in a swinging low cross which was turned in by Boksenboim with aplomb to make it 2-0 to Herzliya. After massive pressure from Betar, Itzhaki pulled one back for the home side with a delightful diving header from a Mirosevic corner on 44 minutes to make it 2-1. Zandberg had a penalty claim turned down by the referee, but this only served to spur Betar on, as Bruchian scored on 55 minutes when he side footed in a perfect Ziv cross and the scores were level at 2-2 with more than half an hour left to play. Romulo made it 3-2 when a clearance by Herzliya 'keeper Peter Merlier rebounded off the Brazilian into the goal on 64 minutes. Bruchian scored his second two minutes later from an Itzhaki cross to seal the win. Bnei Yehuda 1, Hapoel TA 1 Hapoel Tel Aviv entered the game as clear favorites, but felt the pressure after securing just one point during the season so far. The Reds came out with all guns blazing, looking for the early goal. A series of relentless attacks on the Bnei Yehuda goal resulted in the breakthrough. Brazilian midfielder Abadi crossed the ball into the box and Dos Santos headed in from close range, after breaking the offside trap. Abadi had a chance to double Tel Aviv's lead just three minutes later, but his strong shot came off the crossbar. Bnei Yehuda managed to get back on level terms two minutes before the halftime break. The Oranges created a counter attack from the right flank, with Moshe Biton finishing off in style. The second half was closely contested. Both teams opted for physical game tactics. Tel Aviv goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama punched Selver Hodzic in the 85th minute, but the event went unnoticed by the game officials. "We played very poorly in the first half," Bnei Yehuda coach Nitzan Shirazi said after the draw. "But our second half was much better and I liked the way my lads played. I'm sure we'll improve as the season advances." Maccabi Netanya 1, Bnei Sakhnin 2 Around 1,500 fans at "The Box" made their presence felt as their team kicked off the game. Bnei Sakhnin started with some sound defensive play, denying the Netanya attackers on numerous occasions. Sakhnin then broke the deadlock. Maor Buzaglo was virtually unstoppable in midfield, creating a slick assist in the 41st minute. Pati Yablanka finished with a crisp shot. The visitors doubled their lead in the 56th. Buzaglo was fouled on the left flank and Sakhnin won a free kick. The flamboyant playmaker made no mistake, curling the ball into the back of the net. Dedi Ban Dayan pulled one back for the hosts, heading in a Yihiel Tzagai cross in the 82nd minute. Reuven Atar's team pushed ahead in search of the equalizer, but Sakhnin held on to collect all three points. "This game was a big test for us," Buzaglo said after the match. "I'm happy with my personal performance today, but what's really important is the team's success. This team is here to stay."
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