Local Soccer: Hapoel TA stuns Betar Jerusalem 3-1

A controversial penalty on 28 minutes changed the game.

Hapoel TA soccer 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Hapoel TA soccer 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Betar Jerusalem's players, fans and management were all prepared to begin the championship festivities at Bloomfield on Sunday night only to see the team from the capital outplayed and defeated 3-1 at Hapoel Tel Aviv in the Premier League. For the second week in a row Betar capitulated against a Tel Aviv team after giving up a one-goal lead just before the half hour mark. However, unlike last week's 1-1 draw at Teddy Stadium against Maccabi Tel Aviv, this time Jerusalem was truly beaten. For the first third of the game Itzhak Schum's Betar played imperious soccer and appeared to be cruising to victory against a disorganized and disenchanted Hapoel team. Michael Zandberg's superb eighth minute goal had only increased the visitors' confidence. But a controversial penalty on 28 minutes changed the game. Baruch Dego scored from the spot and Hapoel turned into the team in control. The Reds took the lead through Fabio Junior before half time and Dimitar Tekiyiski confirmed the win with a storming strike in the 70th. The result will no doubt dent the egos of last season's league champion, but Jerusalem is still way ahead at the top of the standings and will be able to win the title at home to Maccabi Herzliya next week. For Hapoel, however, the win was crucial, both to help it move away from the relegation zone and in terms of confidence ahead of next Wednesday's State Cup semifinal against Betar/Shimshon Tel Aviv at Ramat Gan. Betar Jerusalem plays in the other semifinal against Maccabi Netanya in a double header and there is every chance Jerusalem and Hapoel Tel Aviv could meet in the final. Sunday's game saw a number of players battling against their former clubs, none less than Betar center-back Shimon Gershon who moved to Jerusalem from Hapoel in the Summer of 2006. Gershon had no qualms getting stuck in from the kick off, fouling Baruch Dego and giving a free kick away in the first minute. Only two minutes had gone when Michael Zandberg had the first chance for Jerusalem, a header from an Idan Tal cross from the right which Enyeama easily covered. The inevitable boos for Gershon began the first time he touched the ball and continued throughout the match. The first goal came with less than ten minutes gone. Idan Tal threaded the ball through to the Zandberg who made no mistake with a ferocious shot from some 18 meters out to the delight of the away support behind the goal. Hapoel tried to get back in the game and immediately pushed up. The ball fell to ex-Betar midfielder Mazua Ensombo on the edge of the area but his weak shot was easily stopped by Betar 'keeper Tvrtko Kale. A Telkiyiski free kick after a quarter of an hour flew over the bar to groans from the crowd, but it wasn't really close enough. Zandberg thought he'd scored a second after 24 minutes when he put the ball in the back of the net after a clever link up with Romulo, but the goal was ruled offside. Hapoel's players, especially Fabio Junior, were giving the ball away with alarming regularity, and the home fans already began taking their frustration out on their team with less than half an hour gone. But then the game changed. In the 27th minute Kale fouled Baruch Dego in the area and referee Menashe Moshiach pointed straight at the spot. Dego stepped up and calmly equalized for Hapoel. There was a new energy to the encounter as Tel Aviv was boosted by the goal with assistant coach Yossi Abuksis barking orders from the touch line. Tomer Ben-Yosef had come in at right back for the injured Cristian Alvarez and wasn't having a great game. With five minutes to go till half time Fabio Junior put the hosts in the lead with a deft flick of a header from a Dego cross. As the second half began Betar was under the cosh once more as Hapoel continued to apply pressure throughout the pitch. Telikiyiski had a golden chance to extend the lead ten minutes into the half but his chip was too high. But Hapoel didn't give up. Telkiyiski scored a beauty on 70 minutes, cutting right through the Betar defense and unleashing a masterful strike to seal the game for Hapoel.