After quick goal, Betar draws with Kiryat Shmona

Avi Rikan gave Betar Jerusalem the lead against Ironi Kiryat Shmona after less than two minutes.

Betar Jerusalem's Hen Azriel 370 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Betar Jerusalem's Hen Azriel 370
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Betar Jerusalem and Ironi Kiryat Shmona played out an entertaining 2-2 draw in Petah Tikva on Sunday night, keeping both teams within striking distance of a European spot.
Betar needed just 97 seconds in Petah Tikva Stadium – at which it hosted the contest after being punished to play two matches away from Teddy – to take the lead through Avi Rikan’s header before Sintiyahu Salalik equalized with a sensational effort in the 17th minute.
Kiryat Shmona moved ahead eight minutes into the second half through Ofir Mizrahi, but Hen Azriel took just eight more minutes to level the score once more and ensure the points would be shared.
“I’m disappointed we didn’t win,” said Betar coach Eli Cohen, whose team dropped to sixth place, two points behind Kiryat Shmona. “This was a wonderful display of soccer.”
Kiryat Shmona coach Barak Bachar was also frustrated at not returning home with all three points.
“I’m happy with our play, but not with the result,” Bachar said. “We should have scored again when we were in front, but we failed to do so and conceded a goal.”
Also Sunday, Bnei Yehuda climbed up to fourth place with a last-gasp 2-1 win over Hapoel Acre at Bloomfield Stadium.
Acre led at halftime through Ohad Kadusi’s goal (44), with Kfir Edri equalizing in the 77th minute before Pedro Galvan missed a chance to complete the comeback three minutes from time after Acre goalkeeper Dudu Goresh saved his penalty.
However, the hosts would claim all three points nevertheless, with Sari Falach netting the winner from close range in the fifth minute of stoppage time.
On Monday, Maccabi Tel Aviv will look to return to the top of the Premier League standings when it visits Maccabi Haifa at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium.
A draw will be enough for the yellowand- blue to leapfrog Hapoel Tel Aviv back into first place, but Maccabi coach Oscar Garcia is targeting a win at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium despite his club’s inability to claim all three points against Haifa on the road in eight years.
“Haifa didn’t lose in its last six games,” Oscar said on Sunday. “They have a very good squad and if I’m not wrong Maccabi Tel Aviv hasn’t won there in eight years. It’s not easy to win there but we will try.”
Oscar claimed that he is currently unconcerned with his team’s position in the standings.
“I don’t care about the table for now,” he said. “I’ll start looking at the table in the last 6-7 games. For now I think it is too early for anything.” Haifa has won three straight games since coach Arik Benado replaced Reuven Atar and the new boss is aware that another victory would bring the Greens within nine points of first place and reignite their championship hopes.
“At Kiryat Eliezer, with our fans behind us, we want to win this match,” Benado said. “A victory will put us in a completely different place and change the momentum and the players are aware of that. I believe that we will record a positive result.”