Betar stays on a roll with Mac PT triumph

Betar Jerusalem moved toward securing another season of Premier League soccer on Sunday night, beating Maccabi Petah Tikva 3-1.

Betar celebrates (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Betar celebrates
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Betar Jerusalem moved to the brink of securing another season of Premier League soccer on Sunday night, beating Maccabi Petah Tikva 3-1 at National Stadium in Ramat Gan to move seven points clear of the relegation zone.
It was just four weeks ago that Betar seemed to be in a desperate position after dropping into the bottom three following a five-match win-less streak in the midst of which coach Yuval Naim resigned.
There was still little optimism following the first couple of matches with new coach Eli Cohen, but after going five games without a goal, Betar snapped Ironi Kiryat Shmona’s 25- match unbeaten streak with a 1-0 victory at Teddy Stadium on March 3, and it has won every encounter since.
Sunday’s win over fellow-struggler Maccabi Petah Tikva was Jerusalem’s fourth straight, with the yellow and black suddenly scoring at will.
After finding the back of the net only three times in eight matches, Betar has scored eight goals in its last three games, netting three within seven minutes on Sunday.
Neither team came close to scoring in a dreary first half at Ramat Gan, where Betar was hosting the match due to an Israel Football Association punishment, but the game exploded into life after the break.
Four minutes into the second half, Amit Ben-Shushan crossed the ball from the left and Dan Eibinder found the bottom right corner with a first-time shot from the edge of the area.
However, Betar’s lead only lasted one minute, with Marwan Kabha sensationally beating six Jerusalem players and goalkeeper Ariel Harush before sending a weak shot at goal, which was ultimately turned in by Eibinder.
Just two more minutes passed and Betar was awarded a penalty.
Haim Megrelashvili’s cross was blocked by Ori Uzan’s hand and Kobi Moyal stepped up to coolly fire Betar back into the lead.
Jerusalem would clinch the win three minutes later, with Moyal’s free-kick being squared into the box by Eibinder and Steven Cohen shooting into an empty net to set off wild celebrations in the stands.
“I told the players at halftime that they need to open up and push forward,” Betar coach Eli Cohen said.
“We exploded in the second half and clinched the win big time.
“I said we would stay up in the toughest of times and of course I still believe that. However, there are still 18 points up for grabs and we can’t take our foot off the gas.”
On Monday, Ironi Kiryat Shmona can clinch its first Premier League championship with a home victory over Bnei Yehuda.
Kiryat Shmona currently holds a 16-point lead over second-placed Hapoel Tel Aviv and a win on Monday will see it open an unassailable gap with still six matches remaining in the season.