Betar begins by beating Maccabi TA

It was not a pretty win for Betar, but it was exactly what Ossie Ardiles had hoped for.

betar jerusalem 88 (photo credit: )
betar jerusalem 88
(photo credit: )
A stunning 65th minute goal by Michael Zandberg gave Betar Jerusalem a 2-1 Premier League victory on Sunday night and a perfect start to the new season. In spite of the goal, it was not a pretty win for Betar, but it was exactly what Ossie Ardiles had hoped for. Betar's coach hadn't even guided his team in one league match but the pressure was already beginning to mount after his team's disappointing exit from the UEFA Cup. Two goals by Zandberg allowed the Argentinian coach to breathe a huge sigh of relief and get an early advantage over title rival Maccabi Haifa, which lost on Saturday. Maccabi Tel Aviv struggled for most of the match, but it could have easily left Bloomfield Stadium with at least a point. Moshe Biton might see Betar defender Tomer Ben-Yosef in his nightmares for a while after the Israeli international twice timed his tackles perfectly to deny the Maccabi striker of scoring. Betar had a better start to the match, with Zandberg almost putting his team in the lead as soon as the sixth minute. Barak Yitzhaki crossed the ball perfectly for the Israeli international, but his header went high. The visitors thought they had scored in the 11th minute when Maccabi defender Avi Yehiel nudged Zandberg's header into his own net, but the goal was ruled offside by the referee. As the half progressed, Tel Aviv began to work its way into the match and even came close to scoring in the 24th minute. Giovanni Rosso's free kick flew past the players of both teams and was making its way into the corner of the Betar net, but 'keeper Itzik Kornfein was well placed to save the ball. A minute later, defender Roni Gafni should have given Betar the lead, but his shot from the edge of the box missed the target. Nine minutes before the break, Maccabi had its best chance of the half when Biton ran clear of the Betar defense but waited too long before taking a shot, which allowed Ben-Yosef to tackle him at the last moment. Three minutes later, Zandberg gave Jerusalem the lead. He pounced on the rebound from Gal Alberman's shot to score Betar's first goal of the season. Maccacbi could have tied the score five minutes after the interval when Biton was once again the guilty party for wasting a scoring opportunity. He only had Kornfein to beat, but Ben-Yosef again intervened with his body and cleared the ball. Betar appeared to be cruising to its first win of the season when Maccabi suddenly got an equalizer seemingly out of nowhere. Milian Mardikovic ran unchallenged for 35 meters and after making his way into the Betar penalty area, placed his shot perfectly in the left corner. The score stayed level for less then two minutes as Zandberg came once more to Jerusalem's rescue. The midfielder got control of the ball and wrestled past one defender before firing a left footed shot into the net. Tel Aviv did not come close to leveling the match after that point and Betar, which was content with a one-goal lead, cruised until the final whistle and claimed its first points of the season.