Goalless deadlock boosts battered Beitar

Jerusalem draws 0-0 at Sakhnin in dreary contest; Bnei Yehuda loses again at Kiryat Shmona.

Midfeilder Ofir Kriaf Beitar Jerusalem 370 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Midfeilder Ofir Kriaf Beitar Jerusalem 370
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Beitar Jerusalem snapped its four-game losing streak on Tuesday night, drawing 0-0 against Bnei Sakhnin at Doha Stadium in Roni Levy’s first match at the helm since returning to the club last week.
The showdown between the bitter rivals was postponed from Saturday due the stormy weather over the weekend, an opportunity the clubs made the most of to exchange insults.
The spat between both managements ended up being far more fascinating than the action on the pitch on Tuesday, with the teams canceling each other out for much of the match.
Each side only registered two shots on target throughout the 90 minutes, with Sakhnin coming closest to breaking the deadlock in the 57th minute when Cristian Hidalgo had his powerful effort from 20 meters out saved by an alert Ariel Harush.
After four consecutive losses, Beitar was more than happy to sit back and allow Sakhnin to aimlessly pass the ball in the center of the field and Levy was quick to admit that he got exactly what he was hoping for on Tuesday.
“This may not have been the most entertaining match for the spectators and I also didn’t enjoy it from an attacking standpoint, but I at least saw a committed team which was tactically sound,” said Levy, who returned to Beitar after guiding the club in the first half of 2011. “In the last few matches Beitar was very exposed in defense, but tonight we barely allowed our opponent to create any scoring opportunities.”
Levy was pleased to see his first week of work at the club bare fruit, but acknowledged that a massive improvement is still required.
“Everyone understands that Beitar needs to strengthen its squad in several positions,” he explained. “There are only small gaps between most of the teams in the league and with some patience, hard work and a couple of signings we can climb up the standings.”
Sakhnin was targeting its fourth straight win on Tuesday, but coach Marco Balbul wasn’t too disappointed with the draw, which leaves the team in third place and means it has still only lost to the top two, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Beersheba.
“I think we continued our recent good form in this match,” Balbul said. “We played well, but we weren’t composed in front of goal. I always thought that we would eventually score, but we never did. Beitar closed us down and we couldn’t break through their defensive formation.
With everything that happened before the match I thought that this would really test our character and I’m delighted that the players were focused and we dominated the encounter, even though we failed to score.” Earlier Tuesday, Bnei Yehuda remained rooted to the bottom of the standings, losing 2-1 at Ironi Kiryat Shmona, its 10th defeat in the past 12 matches.
Coach Dror Kashtan quit over two weeks ago, but Bnei Yehuda was guided once more by interim replacement Ya’akov Asayag on Tuesday and remained without a victory since August.
Oz Raly gave Bnei Yehuda the lead in the 34th minute with a sensational effort from 20 meters out, but yet again his team would end a match empty-handed.
Barak Badash was perfectly placed to slot in the equalizer from close range in the 61st minute and Ofir Mizrahi clinched all three points for Kiryat Shmona 10 minutes from time with another header. Kiryat Shmona climbed up to sixth place with what was just its second win in the last seven games, while Bnei Yehuda remained five points adrift of safety.