Great start for Amsalem at Betar

Hat-trick from Itzhaki sends Betar over Maccabi Netanya; Maccabi Petah Tikvah humbles Maccabi Tel Aviv 2-1.

barak itzhaki 311 (photo credit: MK Productions)
barak itzhaki 311
(photo credit: MK Productions)
David Amsalem got off to a sensational start as new Betar Jerusalem coach on Saturday as his team swept aside Maccabi Netanya 3-1, courtesy of a Barak Itzhaki hat-trick.
Elsewhere, after last week’s derby defeat, Maccabi Tel Aviv’s misery continued as Avi Nimni’s men were beaten 2-1 by Maccabi Petah Tikva, while Bnei Yehuda won 3-0 at Hapoel Ra’anana.
Also Saturday, John Gregory’s Ahi Nazareth moved off the bottom with a 2-2 draw away at Hapoel Beersheba, while Hapoel Acre and Hapoel Haifa also drew to the same score.
Betar Jerusalem 3, Maccabi Netanya 1
Although he won’t remain Betar boss unless he obtains his professional license within a month, Amsalem asked to “just be allowed to enjoy the victory” over Netanya instead of dwelling on his coaching credentials.
And after a turbulent time of late, few would begrudge Betar a bit of enjoyment from winning the crucial battle for sixth place at Teddy Stadium.
 It was a blistering start for the hosts, taking the lead after just three minutes. Eliran Danin lofted the ball to Idan Tal whose cut-back was poked onto the post by Toto Tamuz, but Barak Itzhaki was there to knock home the rebound.
Betar’s second came courtesy of the speed and strength of Tamuz. After the hosts tenaciously won the ball in midfield, it broke to the Betar striker, who powered down the right past Omri Ben-Harush and scooped in a cross which Netanya goalkeeper Aristide Zogbo could only palm onto the head of the grateful Itzhaki, who simply guided the ball into the empty net.
Itzhaki completed his hat-trick in style midway through the second-half, collecting Tal’s square pass before rifling an unstoppable effort into the corner from the edge of the box.
Almog Cohen slotted in a late consolation goal for Netanya, but it was too little too late for Reuven Atar’s men.
Maccabi Petah Tikva 2, Maccabi Tel Aviv 1
Freddy David got his first home win as Maccabi Petah Tikva boss on Saturday afternoon, while Maccabi Tel Aviv paid the price for a toothless second-half display.
And few could argue with David’s assessment that “talent won out in the end, and we have an abundance of it, particularly in attack.”
Maccabi Tel Aviv had a golden opportunity to go in at half-time a goal to the good, but Shiran Yeini blazed horribly over from two yards after Ronny Gafney had headed on a Maor Buzaglo corner.
Yeini went on to rue that missed chance four minutes after the restart when his side fell behind.
Dani Freda whipped in a free-kick and Avi Yehiel rose to flick a header inside the far post beyond Strauber’s flailing hand.
The rest of the second half was all about the attacking verve of Maccabi Petah Tikva’s young guns, and the link-up play between Omer Damari, Danny Freda and Dovev Gabai was particularly refreshing.
The hosts doubled their advantage in the  74th minute. Freda won a header at midfield and Damari dinked the ball over the top to Gabai, who beat Strauber with a sublime lob.
Maccabi Tel Aviv pulled one back three minutes from the final whistle, with substitute Yossi Shivhon heading in Yuval Spungin’s cross over a statuesque Dragoslav Jevric.
But Maccabi Petah Tikva held on for the three points, which move David’s men further away from relegation trouble.