Ejections, late goals doom Betar

Betar Jerusalem lost valuable ground in the battle for second place in the Premier League Sunday night.

betar jerusalem 298.88 (photo credit: www.beitar-jerusalem.net)
betar jerusalem 298.88
(photo credit: www.beitar-jerusalem.net)
Betar Jerusalem lost valuable ground in the battle for second place in the Premier League Sunday night, after it conceded two goals to Maccabi Tel Aviv in the final minutes of their match to lose 2-1 at Bloomfield Stadium. Betar, which finished the match with nine men, was in complete control for the first 65 minutes, taking the lead in the 31st minute and missing numerous chances to extend its advantage. Jerusalem would live to regret those missed chances after Jerome Leroy received a red card in the 65th minute, allowing Maccabi to work its way back into the match. The win was especially important for Tel Aviv coach Ton Cannen, who finally got a measure of revenge against Jerusalem coach Luis Fernandez. Fernandez was the main reason behind Cannen's departure from Betar earlier in the season. The yellow-and-black remain three points behind Hapoel Tel Aviv in the battle for the all-important second place, which guarantees a spot in the UEFA Cup, with only four matches remaining in the season. The win gave Maccabi renewed hope of finishing in fourth place and possible European qualification. Jerusalem, which seized control of the match right from the kickoff and dominated play throughout the entire first half, should have taken the lead in the 19th minute. David Aganzo picked up a poor Maccabi back pass, but instead of shooting immediately, wasted time in front of goal and allowed the Tel Aviv defense to clear the danger. Betar finally took the lead in the 31st minute when Amit Ben-Shushan's buildup play set up Aviram Bruchian, who blasted the ball in. Jerusalem didn't settle for the one-goal lead and pushed forward immediately, searching for a second. In the 36th minute, Jerome Leroy and Ben-Shushan each had golden opportunities to score and a minute later Fabrice Fernandes was guilty of wasting a good chance. Maccabi introduced Avi Nimni after halftime, but even his substitution couldn't jolt the team into action. Three minutes after the interval, Betar again should have doubled its lead, but Aganzo failed to find a teammate in the box. In the 64th minute Leroy came close to scoring, but his deflected shot was turned over the crossbar by 'keeper Liran Strauber. That turned out to be Leroy's last contribution to the match. A minute later, the Frenchman was sent off for an unsportsmanlike foul on Salem Abu Siam. Tel Aviv drew encouragement from the sending off and began to threaten the Betar goal. In the 75th minute Liran Cohen came close to equalizing when his shot went just wide of the post. Maccabi continued to press forward and in the 84th minute finally drew level. Giovanni Rosso found space in the Betar box and headed in the equalizer. The hosts didn't settle for the draw and four minutes later got a sensational winner. Giorgi Demitradze scored with his head from a Rosso cross. Two minutes later, Igor Mitrevski ended his match prematurely, receiving a red card that left his team with nine men and a dejected feeling.