Betar will take any victory it can get

Jerusalem set on avoiding relegation, defeats lowly Hap PT; Hap TA execs resign.

BRAZILIAN STRIKER Leonardo Passos Alves celebrates 311 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
BRAZILIAN STRIKER Leonardo Passos Alves celebrates 311
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
After going win-less for eight consecutive matches and dropping into the relegation zone, Betar Jerusalem won its second straight game on Sunday night, defeating rock-bottom Hapoel Petah Tikva 1-0 on the road to take a significant step to securing its topflight status.
Just like in last week’s 2-1 win over Maccabi Netanya, Betar was far from impressive at the Moshava Stadium, but it once more dug deep and showed the resilience it will require if it’s to triumph in the battle against relegation.
Brazilian striker Leonardo Passos Alves scored the only goal of the match after just four minutes thanks to Steven Cohen’s surge forward and delicate through ball.
Petah Tikva dominated the possession after that, but it was Betar which reached the better chances. However, neither would find the back of the net, with Petah Tikva losing hope of a comeback eight minutes from time after Jonathan Assous was shown a straight red card for elbowing Cohen in the face.
“Until now we had lost our matches against our rivals in the bottom of the standings,” Betar coach Yuval Naim said. “We didn’t play a great match once more, but we were determined and tactically sound and this is a massive win.”
For Petah Tikva, which was always going to struggle to survive after beginning the season with a ninepoint deduction, Sunday’s loss was a crushing blow to any lingering hope it may have had of remaining in the Premier League.
The defeat to Betar leaves it nine points back of safety and it would be truly astounding were it to ever make it out of the relegation zone this season.
Meanwhile, Hapoel Tel Aviv deteriorated from a state of disarray into complete chaos on Sunday after its chairman Doron Osidon, CEO Nir Inbar and press officer Kobby Barda simultaneously resigned in protest of owner Eli Tabib’s running of the club.
The backbone of Hapoel’s management decided it no longer wanted anything to do with Tabib following his handling of the sacking of coach Dror Kashtan last Monday.
Kashtan was shockingly fired in a transatlantic phone call by Tabib, who spends much of his time in Miami, Florida, with Nitzan Shirazi being brought in as a replacement two days later.
“I never thought that I’d be embarrassed with the way the club is being run,” Osidon said. “I came here with great energy to help promote the club, but I don’t want to have any part in what is going on here at the moment.
“I tried to think of ways to improve this situation, but couldn’t come up with any. In the last year-and-a-half Hapoel Tel Aviv has been occupied by gossip and not soccer. It is about time the club starts to focus on professional matters and not on everything else that surrounds it.”
Tabib promised that it won’t be long before he brings in replacements and denied rumors that he has plans to sell the club following the growing discontent both in the clubhouse and in the stands.
However, in the meantime, Hapoel’s players have to block out all the off-field distractions and produce results on the pitch to remain in the title race, starting with Monday night’s match at Hapoel Haifa.
Ironically, Shirazi’s first match at the helm will be against the club he left less than two months ago following a dismal start to the season, and with Tel Aviv trailing league-leader Kiryat Shmona by 12 points, the Reds can’t afford anything but three points at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium.