Betar blunders its way back into danger

Jerusalem blanked in Rishon, drops below Mac PT; Mac Haifa makes it two in a row.

Betar Jerusalem 311 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Betar Jerusalem 311
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
After three straight wins, Betar Jerusalem’s battle for survival suffered a significant blow on Saturday night with a 2-0 loss at fellow-struggler Hapoel Rishon Lezion.
Betar climbed out of the relegation zone after taking all possible nine points from its last three matches, but any notion that its Premier League status was already guaranteed for another season was emphatically dispelled on Saturday following a bitterly poor performance at Haberfeld Stadium.
Rishon all but wrapped up the win by the 10th minute, with Kobi Musa blasting in his first league goal in seven years after seven minutes and Gheorghe Ovseannicov making the most of Barak Moshe’s reckless back-pass three minutes later, rounding Betar ’keeper Ariel Harush and sending the ball into the empty net.
Rishon had won just one of its previous 20 matches, but it thoroughly outplayed Betar for 90 minutes and its twogoal victory doesn’t really do its dominance justice.
The win took 15th-placed Rishon just three points from safety, while Jerusalem is a mere three points above Hapoel Haifa and the relegation zone.
“This was our worst match of the season.
We didn’t show up,” Betar coach Yuval Naim said. “Clearly, there must be some players here who were blinded by our three victories. Rishon was the better team and deserved to win. We didn’t create any chances and we need to put this match behind us and focus on our next game. I hope we can already bounce back against Sakhnin next week.”
Maccabi Petah Tikva leapfrogged Betar in the standings on Saturday, edging Hapoel Ramat Hasharon 1-0 to give coach Moshe Sinai all three points in his debut with the side.
Victor Merey scored the only goal of the match in the 60th minute.
Hapoel Haifa picked up an important point on Saturday, drawing 1-1 at Maccabi Netanya.
Hen Ezra scored from the rebound of his missed penalty in the 38th minute, only for Yuval Avidor to equalize for Haifa on the brink of halftime.
Rock-bottom Hapoel Petah Tikva hosts Hapoel Tel Aviv on Sunday.
Maccabi Haifa won consecutive league matches for the first time since November on Saturday, beating Hapoel Beersheba 3-1 at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium.
Eyal Golasa netted the opener for the hosts with a powerful effort from the edge of the area after 11 minutes, with Mohammad Ghadir doubling Haifa’s advantage six minutes into the second half after a nifty turn in the box.
Moti Malka gave the visitors some hope in the 83rd minute, but his goal ended up being little consolation for Beersheba, with Alon Turgeman wrapping up the scoring in stoppage time.
Second-placed Ashdod SC failed to win for the fifth time in six matches on Saturday, drawing 1-1 at home with Hapoel Acre.
Nicolas Falczuk gave Acre the lead in the 26th minute, with Israel Rosh equalizing three minutes later to bring Ashdod within 10 points of leader Ironi Kiryat Shmona.
Kiryat Shmona can increase its lead when it visits Maccabi Tel Aviv on Monday.
Also Saturday, Bnei Yehuda snatched a 2-2 draw at Bnei Sakhnin courtesy of Dan Mori’s header two minutes into stoppage time.
Hamad Ganayem (34) and Ohad Kadusi (43) gave the hosts a comfortable halftime lead, but Sakhnin’s Idan Weitzman was sent off in the 52nd minute and Dino Ndlovu (65) got Bnei Yehuda back into the match before Mori equalized.