Betar Jerusalem unimpressive in 0-0 draw at Sakhnin.
By ALLON SINAI
Bnei Yehuda returned to the top of the Premier League standings on Monday night, while Betar Jerusalem is still searching for its first goal of the season after drawing 0-0 at Bnei Sakhnin.
After being handed a 3-0 technical victory over Ashdod SC in its first match of the season, Bnei Yehuda got the job done on the field on Monday, defeating Ahi Nazareth 2-0 at Bloomfield Stadium.
Pedro Galvan scored twice with his head within two second-half minutes and ensured Bnei Yehuda will enter the international break in first position.
"We are in first place, but we are far more pleased with the fact that we won this match," said coach Guy Luzon. "It is important to be in this position at the end of the season and not at the start. We are entering the international break with a smile on our faces."
Bnei Yehuda will face Maccabi Tel Aviv in its first real test of the season when the Premier League returns to action in two weeks time, following the national team's World Cup qualifiers against Latvia and Luxembourg.
Betar only managed to claim a single point at Sakhnin, but coach Itzhak Schum will be far more concerned with his team's performance. Jerusalem was poor throughout the match and will need to improve drastically if it's to challenge for the championship.
The news that Aviram Bruchian and Barak Itzhaki will likely remain at the club at least until the January transfer window will delight Jerusalem, but the two were just as bad as the rest of their teammates on Monday and will be expected to do much better in Betar's next league match at Maccabi Petah Tikva.
"There is no excuse for the way we played," Betar midfielder Idan Tal said. "We played nothing like the way we are capable of."
At Bloomfield, Bnei Yehuda should have taken the lead in the 12th minute, but Eliran Atar recorded what will surely be remembered as one of the misses of the season, passing Russian goalkeeper Ruslan Nigmatullin, only to miss in front of an empty net.
Despite coming closer to scoring in the remainder of the first half, the hosts failed to breach Nigmatullin's goal. One minute from the interval they lost Atar to injury. The talented striker was forced off with a thigh injury and is in doubt for Israel's World Cup qualifier against Latvia on Saturday.
In the 67th minute, Bnei Yehuda finally made the breakthrough, with Galvan heading in Oz Rali's cross. Just one minute later the Argentinian doubled his team's lead, once more heading the ball into the back of the net, this time from a Kfir Edri pass.
Galvan almost completed a hat-trick of headers in the 75th minute, hitting the crossbar, but the miss was of no real significance as Bnei Yehuda easily held on for the win.
At the Doha Stadium, the hosts got off to the better start, but struggled to create scoring opportunities. Khaled Khalaila came closest in the first half with his attempt from the edge of the box in the 16th minute, while Idan Tal registered Betar's only shot on goal in the first 45 minute with his left footed effort in the 31st minute.
The lackluster first half was followed by a dreary second period, with both teams extremely poor on attack. Itzhaki was tantalizingly close to giving his team the lead when he headed the ball against the post in the 69th minute. However, that was a rare ray of light in an otherwise uneventful second half and the match ended in the 0-0 draw it deserved.
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