Betar continues climb by beating Hap TA

Jerusalem denies Reds’ opportunity to go top with ultra-impressive 2-0 road conquest.

Betar Jeruslaem's Hen Azriel 370 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Betar Jeruslaem's Hen Azriel 370
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Betar Jerusalem claimed a memorable 2-0 victory over Hapoel Tel Aviv at Bloomfield Stadium on Monday night, recording its third straight win and extending its unbeaten run to eight matches to close within seven points of the Premier League summit.
Hapoel could have leapfrogged Maccabi Tel Aviv into first place with a win, but it created little to nothing against Betar’s well-organized formation and the visitors clinched the three points with two late goals.
Hen Azriel’s effort from the edge of the area caught Hapoel goalkeeper Apoula Edel by surprise in the 74th minute and Avi Rikan secured the three points six minutes later before Hapoel’s Eric Djemba Djemba was sent off for elbowing Dario Fernandez.
“I’ve realized a childhood dream by winning at Bloomfield,” said Rikan.
Hapoel and Betar also met at Bloomfield the night before the last elections in February 2009, but it didn’t take long to realize that there would be no repeat of Tel Aviv’s 4-0 thrashing four years ago.
The hosts had no intention of allowing Betar to catch it off-guard with its swift breaks forward and Jerusalem was adamant at sitting back and forcing Hapoel to play a patient passing game it has struggled with this season.
Hapoel coach Yossi Abuksis brought in Toto Tamuz at the start of the second half, but that did nothing to change the pattern of the game established from the first whistle.
Betar was happy to patiently wait for its chance and it made the most of it when if finally arrived in the 74th minute.
The ball fell to Azriel’s feet on the edge of the box and his shot took a slight deflection off Djemba Djemba and got the better of Edel, who should have really cleared the danger.
Betar clinched the victory six minutes later, with Azriel breaking down the left flank before squaring the ball perfectly for the incoming Rikan.
Djemba Djemba completed Hapoel’s miserable night when he was shown a straight red card in the 83rd minute for elbowing Fernandez to the delight of the Betar supporters who remained in the stadium long after the final whistle to celebrate a sweet win.
Also Monday, Maccabi Tel Aviv agreed with Italian side Palermo on the transfer of Eran Zahavi, who is set to sign a three-and-a-half year deal.
Zahavi’s signing will be especially painful for Hapoel Tel Aviv as he played a key role in the club’s 2009/10 championship winning campaign.