Reeling Betar blanked by Ramat Hasharon

Coachless yellow-and-black fall 2-0 for 3rd straight league loss, stay two points above relegation zone.

Eran Levy 390 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Eran Levy 390
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Coachless Betar Jerusalem looked as hopeless as ever on Saturday night, failing to score for a fourth straight match on the way to a demoralizing 2-0 defeat to Hapoel Ramat Hasharon at Winter Stadium.
Yuval Naim resigned last week after losing faith in his squad, but the departure of their coach seemed to make little impression on the Betar players, who were clueless and helpless once more on Saturday, remaining just two points above the relegation zone after suffering a third straight league loss.
Ramat Hasharon scored the crucial opener in the cagey match through Alain Masudi in the 68th minute before Gal Barel clinched the three points with a stunning shot from 20 meters out in stoppage time.
Interim Betar coach Hanan Azulai was pleased with his team’s discipline on Saturday, but chairman Itzik Kornfein will know a significant improvement is required as he intensifies his search for Naim’s full-time replacement on Sunday.
Despite going down to 10 men in the 25th minute of Saturday’s match at Hapoel Rishon Lezion, Hapoel Tel Aviv kept alive its slender hopes of catching Ironi Kiryat Shmona, winning 2-1 for its third straight victory in all competitions.
Hapoel found itself in real trouble when Shay Abutbul was sent off for a two-legged tackle after 25 minutes.
However, Rishon couldn’t make its one-man advantage count, with Walid Badier giving the visitors the lead from the penalty spot in the 53rd minute after Nosa Igiebor was tumbled over the box.
Omer Damari secured Hapoel’s win with a clinical left-footed finish from just inside the box 20 minutes later, with Gheorghe Ovseannicov’s consolation goal two minutes from time only adding to Rishon’s frustration.
“We need to continue to do our job and if we find ourselves closer to Kiryat Shmona in a few weeks time than we can start thinking of the championship again,” said Hapoel coach Nitzan Shirazi after his team closed to within nine points of Kiryat Shmona.
The northerners can take their lead back to 12 points when they host Hapoel Beersheba on Sunday night.
Meanwhile, Tel Aviv has got a fight on its hands for second place in the standings, with Ashdod SC and Bnei Sakhnin remaining within striking distance of the Reds with wins on Saturday.
Ashdod is just one point below Tel Aviv after beating Hapoel Haifa 3-2 on Saturday, with Nir Biton (9), Ofer Verta (20) and Amir Lavi (39) scoring for the hosts, while Ali Khatib continued his impressive run of form for Haifa with two more goals (27, 51).
Sakhnin is three points behind Ashdod after winning for the third time in four matches on Saturday, defeating Hapoel Acre 2-1 at Doha Stadium.
Stefan Scepovic’s penalty (61) canceled out Khaled Khalaila’s spot kick from four minutes earlier, but Ahmed Kasoum clinched all three points for the hosts with a nice finish in the 74th.
Maccabi Tel Aviv’s dismal season continued to deteriorate on Saturday, with the yellow-and-blue losing 1-0 to Bnei Yehuda at Bloomfield Stadium.
Dino Ndlovu scored the only goal of the match in the 12th minute and Maccabi is now in real danger of dropping into the bottom half of the standings and playing in the relegation playoffs.
Also Saturday, Hapoel Petah Tikva kept alive its lingering hopes of survival with a 3-1 win over Maccabi Netanya.
Guy Tzarfati (11) and Dominique Wassi (42, 72) scored for Petah Tikva, which is still eight points from safety, while Serghei Alexeev (62) netted for Netanya.
Maccabi Haifa hosts Maccabi Petah Tikva on Monday.