Betar stuns Kiryat Shmona with injury-time goal

Levy scores in 93rd minute to lift yellow-and-black to shocking upset over first place K8.

Eran Levy 390 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Eran Levy 390
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
A 93rd-minute penalty by Eran Levy gave Betar Jerusalem a critical 1- 0 victory over Ironi Kiryat Shmona at Teddy Stadium on Saturday night, snapping the Premier League leader’s unbeaten streak at 25 matches.
Betar was heading towards a sixth straight league match without a goal until Kiryat Shmona’s Shir Tzedek needlessly handled the ball in the box, handing substitute Levy a chance he wouldn’t squander.
Jerusalem was at least equal to Kiryat Shmona throughout the match at a cold and wet Teddy, which says more about the northerners’ play than it does of Betar’s.
But the hosts never really forced ‘keeper Danny Amos into a difficult save and seemed destined to lose important ground on fellow-struggles Hapoel Haifa and Hapoel Beersheba after both had won their matches earlier.
All that changed when Levy slotted the ball beyond Amos to give Betar its first win in six matches and hand Kiryat Shmona its first defeat since August 27 when it lost 3-1 to Maccabi Netanya in the second weekend of the season.
“This win can swing the momentum and prove to be a turning point in our season,” said Betar coach Eli Cohen, who won for the first time since replacing Yuval Naim less than three weeks ago.“We canceled out Kiryat Shmona and the players deserve a lot of credit.
“We are still lacking a cutting edge in front of goal, but we are working on that.”
Despite the defeat, Kiryat Shmona is still well on course to winning a historic championship, remaining 14 points ahead of second-placed Hapoel Tel Aviv with nine matches left in the season.
Hapoel can close the gap to 11 points when it hosts Maccabi Tel Aviv in the local derby on Monday night.
“I’m very disappointed, but this is part of life,” said Kiryat Shmona coach Ran Ben-Shimon, who was adamant that Tzedek’s hand-ball should not have resulted in a penalty. “We were poor and we lost and now we need to move on.”
Hapoel Beersheba remained one point ahead of Betar and the relegation zone with a 2-1 home win over Ashdod SC courtesy of Lotem Zino’s 94th-minute goal.
Idan Shriki gave Ashdod the lead after 14 minutes, but Yossi Shivhon scored a deserved equalizer in the 71st before Zino struck deep into stoppage time 10 minutes after coming on as a substitute.
Hapoel Haifa remained just in front of the rest of the pack with a 2-0 victory over Hapoel Ramat Hasharon, its third straight win.
Yuval Avidor (67) and Hanan Maman (80) scored for Haifa, which despite its recent run is just three points clear of the bottom three.
Maccabi Petah Tikva snapped a three-match losing streak on Saturday, but its 2- 2 draw at Bnei Yehuda saw it drop to 13th place, only a point off the relegation zone.
Goals from Victor Merey (54) and Omer Golan (63) gave Petah Tikva the lead at Bloomfield Stadium, canceling out Pedro Galvan’s third-minute opener.
However, Galvan scored his second of the night 10 minutes from time to further complicate Petah Tikva’s situation ahead of next weekend’s showdown with Betar Jerusalem.
Hapoel Rishon Lezion maintained hope of top-flight survival with a 1-0 road win over rock-bottom Hapoel Petah Tikva on Saturday.
Rishon lost Gheorghe Ovseannicov to a red card in the 34th minute, but Asi Baldut scored the only goal of the match in the 49th and Rishon closed to within five points of safety.
Also Saturday, Maccabi Netanya recorded an important win in the battle for a top-eight finish and a place in the championship playoffs, defeating Bnei Sakhnin 3-1.
Hen Ezra (29), Ahmed Saba (67) and Kobi Dajani (81) scored for the winners, with Eric Gawu (71) netting for Sakhnin.
Maccabi Haifa visits Hapoel Acre on Sunday.