Phantom penalty lifts Ashdod over Betar

Shai Holtzman's 76-minute goal ended Betar Jerusalem's five game winning streak with a 1-0 defeat.

betar jerusalem 88 (photo credit: )
betar jerusalem 88
(photo credit: )
Betar Jerusalem boss Luis Fernandez was left scratching his head Sunday night as his side's five-match unbeaten run came to an end when nine-man Betar suffered a shock 1-0 defeat to Ashdod SC at Teddy Stadium. Fernandez must be wondering how his side failed to collect any points from this encounter against Ashdod. Betar had enough chances to win half-a-dozen games yet came away with nothing. Ashdod has a reputation in recent years for stealing games when the odds are against them and this was just one more example. Shai Holtzman secured the victory in the 76th minute from a controversial penalty, to the astonishment of the home fans. The yellow-and-black gave a sneak preview of what the team is capable of with its current squad and as soon as new signings David Aganzo, Fabrice Fernandes and Gal Alberman get comfortable, Betar fans should be in for a treat. However, on Sunday night Jerusalem lost valuable ground in the battle for second place and now trails Hapoel Tel Aviv by four points. On the other hand, Ashdod climbed to seventh with the three points and gave coach Elisha Levy some breathing space from the bottom of the standings. Betar was clearly the hungrier side at the start of the match and it wasn't long before the hosts began to put Ashdod under intense pressure. Four minutes after kickoff, David Aganzo was unmarked inside the visitors' box but the recent signing could only manage to hit the crossbar from five meters out. Javi Gonzalez had one of Ashdod's rare opportunities one minute later. He picked up a turnover midway through the Betar half but hit a poor shot straight at 'keeper Itzik Kornfein, who easily saved. Jerusalem continued to search for an opening goal and 18 minutes from the start should have been in the lead. Barak Yitzhaki found himself with the simple task of kicking the ball into an empty net but the midfielder couldn't take advantage of the absence of Ashdod's keeper and hit his shot over the goal from 10 meters out. Six minutes later Aganzo showed a little of what he can do when he bamboozled Ashdod defender Amir Elkarif on the left flank and flew past him. However, his cross was eventually cleared by the visitors' defense. Six minutes into the second half Aganzo had a golden opportunity to score. Yitzhaki's good build-up play set up the Spaniard with only the 'keeper to beat but his shot was wide. Another six minutes later, Jerusalem's match took a turn for the worse. Defender Igor Mitrevski was the last man on defense and he left the referee no option but to send him off when he fouled Holtzman on the way to the goal. Things went from bad to worse for the yellow-andblack when defender Eliran Danin was wrongly judged to have handled the ball in the box and the referee gave Ashdod a penalty. Holtzman eased the ball in and gave the visitors the lead. Betar pushed forward searching for an equalizer but even Aganzo's spectacular bicycle kick a minute from the final whistle wouldn't go in. In injury time, Betar's night got even worse when Tomer Ben-Yosef brutally tackled an Ashdod player and received a justified red card.