Local Soccer: Hapoel TA's failures continue

Betar Jerusalem comfortably beat Maccabi Petah Tikva 2-1 at Teddy Stadium, stretching its lead at the top to 9 points.

Hapoel TA 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Hapoel TA 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
The moves made in the January transfer window can often prove crucial in the second half of the season, as illustrated on Saturday when Bnei Sakhnin's Romanian signing Bogdan Apostu scored the only goal to give the visiting team a 1-0 victory over Hapoel Tel Aviv at Bloomfield Stadium. While Apostu was making his presence felt, Hapoel striker Shlomi Arbeitman, who moved to Tel Aviv on loan from Maccabi Haifa just over a week ago, failed to make the impact home fans had hoped for. Meanwhile, Sakhnin's star player Maor Buzaglo, who stressed that he is happy with his decision to continue at the club until the end of the season, put in another commensurate performance. Tel Aviv coach Eli Gutman may well be regretting his decision to accept the job back in December. When Guy Luzon quit a week before, Hapoel was in a bad enough situation. But, on Saturday the Reds were sent to their seventh home loss of the season. "Unfortunately this lack of stability is what characterizes a team at the bottom," Gutman said after the match, referring to last week's last minute 3-2 win at Maccabi Herzliya. "I told the players in the changing room before the game that it will be a difficult match, Sakhnin is not close to the top of the standings by chance. But a team in our situation needs to pick up points in a match like this." Arbeitman had his chances in a scrappy game, most notably in the 18th minute when he received the ball in the penalty area but fluffed the opportunity. The goal came in the 58th minute from a well-taken free kick. Also Saturday, Betar Jerusalem comfortably beat Maccabi Petah Tikva 2-1 at Teddy Stadium, stretching its lead at the top of the standings to 9 points after on-form Maccabi Haifa could only manage a 1-1 draw at Ironi Kiryat Shmona. In the relegation battle Ashdod SC were beaten 3-2 at Bnei Yehuda and Maccabi Herzliya was held 0-0 by Hapoel Kfar Saba. Betar Jerusalem 2, Maccabi Petah Tikva 1 Betar was in control for nearly the entire 90 minutes and made its presence felt early. Amit Ben-Shushan scored with a tap in from a couple of meters out in the 14th minute, when Petah Tikva goalkeeper Ohad Cohen scuffed a long-range free kick into his path. The visiting side came closest to equalizing five minutes into the second half when Betar 'keeper Trvtko Kale made a similar mistake to Cohen's, mistiming his jump for a cross, but Kobi Ganon's backwards header went wide. Aviram Bruchian made it 2-0 when he picked up an pass from Ben-Shushan which deceived the Petah Tikva defense. When Idan Tal missed a penalty 15 minutes before the end it gave the visitors hope and Amram Demari pulled one back for Petah Tikva with six minutes left, but it was too little too late. Ironi Kiryat Shmona 1, Maccabi Haifa 1 Kiryat Shmona's Cameroonian striker Emmanuel Emangoa latched onto a 16th minute Barak Bakher cross to put his team 1-0 ahead. Haifa rose to the challenge, though. Nine minutes later the Greens had equalized through a pinpoint freekick by veteran Croatian Giovanni Rossi from 23 meters out. The remainder of the match saw a tough battle between the teams and a number of chances but neither could knick the decisive goal.