Hap TA edges Ashdod at Bloomfield as Einstein honored

Hapoel Tel Aviv teammates 370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Hapoel Tel Aviv teammates 370
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Defender Branko Ilic played the role of villain and hero in Hapoel Tel Aviv’s 2-1 victory over 10-man Ashdod SC at Bloomfield Stadium on Monday night.
The Slovenian gifted Ashdod a penalty in the 54th minute, pulling down Paty Yeye in the box, and David Solari converted the spot kick.
Hapoel equalized just two minutes later after Omer Damari netted a penalty following Aleksandar Davidov’s handball.
Ashdod found itself with just 10 men in the 63rd minute after Israel Rosh, the last man on defense, fouled Damari.
However, even with a one-player advantage, Hapoel struggled to create scoring opportunities until Ilic came to his team’s rescue, scoring an 89th-minute winner after a melee in the Ashdod box.
Hapoel’s first win in four matches took it up to fourth place in the Premier League standings, 10 points behind league-leader Maccabi Tel Aviv ahead of next week’s derby. Ashdod remained in 10th place on 15 points.
An hour-long tribute event in honor of legendary singer Arik Einstein preceded the match.
As well as being Hapoel’s most famous fan, Einstein was also a life-long supporter of English Premier League club Arsenal. A letter of condolence from Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger to Einstein’s wife Sima arrived at their home on Monday.
Elsewhere, Roni Levy held his first training session as Beitar Jerusalem coach on Monday and called for patience after the team suffered its fourth straight defeat on Sunday night, losing 2-1 to Maccabi Tel Aviv at Teddy Stadium.
“I’m very happy and very excited to be back at Beitar,” said Levy, who also guided the club in the first half of 2011.
“It is a big challenge to come back. A significant improvement is required and everyone knows that. Everybody knows that matters won’t magically improve, but there is a special spirit at Beitar.”
In other news, Yossi Benayoun is set to complete his transfer to QPR later this week after receiving his work permit on Monday. Benayoun returned to Israel on Monday for 48 hours, but will fly back to London later this week to join his new team in training.