Local Soccer: Betar gets its revenge on Hapoel Tel Aviv

Jerusalem defeats arch rival at Teddy a month after taking drubbing at Bloomfield.

betar (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Just over a month ago, Hapoel Tel Aviv destroyed Betar Jerusalem 4-0 at Bloomfield Stadium in a match which appeared to end any chance last year's Premier League champion had of retaining its title. However, all is not always what it seems in the world of Israeli soccer. The result in Tel Aviv ignited the team from the capital to go on a winning run which continued on Monday night with a tough 2-1 victory over the very same Hapoel team which it had lost to so easily in February. Idan Vered scored the first for Jerusalem in the 31st minute and Aviram Bruchian added a second six minutes later. While the game looked to be becoming a rout, Tel Aviv came back to score in the 59th, and left the home supporters biting their nails towards the end. The win was coach Reuven Atar's team's fifth in a row in the league and moved it up to third place in the league standings, just a point off Hapoel Tel Aviv and five behind Maccabi Haifa. With ten games still to play, and Haifa due to visit Jerusalem's Teddy Stadium in the last match of the season, the battle for the championship has truly begun. Next weekend, Betar visits Netanya in another crucial match up which will go some way to deciding the title race. At Teddy on Monday, after a quick-paced start, the game began descending into a slow, uninspiring contest until the breakthrough came, almost out of nothing, on the half hour. Amit Ben-Shushan sent in a superb cross from the right which young striker Vered did well to control and then shoot on goal. The ball looked to be going out but deflected off defender Omri Canada and went in. Suddenly Betar was sparked into life and it took only six minutes for the team in yellow and black to double its lead when Bruchian played a clever one two with Barak Itzhaki on the edge of the box and let leash with a stunning effort which gave the goalkeeper no chance at all. A double substitution by Gutman six minutes into the second half looked jazz things up a little, but Betar was terrorizing its opponent with slick passing and skilful soccer, although it wasn't resulting in any clear cut chances. The lack of incisive play by the hosts came back at them just before the clock reached the hour mark. Gili Vermot skipped past Betar left back Eliran Danin and crossed for substitute Victor Mari who headed home from close range. Gutman's players soon grew in confidence, but were unable to translate it into an equalizer. Then, in the 68th minute, came the most controversial incident of the match. Barak Itzhaki passed through the Hapoel defense to Ben-Shushan and replays proved Enyema had pulled the striker down. Referee Meir Levy pointed to the spot and showed Enyeama the red card, but after discussing the situation with his linesman, decided to change his mind, allow the goalkeeper to stay on the pitch and give possession back to the visitors, incensing the Betar fans. Hapoel substitute Idan Ben Baset could have caused even more nerves in the home crowd if he had got his header on target five minutes before the end, but it was not to be for the visitors who left the capital empty handed.