Slumping Betar remains in relegation zone

Jerusalem defeated 1-0 at Maccabi Haifa with first-place Kiryat Shmona up next.

Ghadir 311 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Ghadir 311
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Betar Jerusalem will spend at least the coming week in the relegation zone after dropping to its fourth defeat in five matches on Sunday night, losing 1-0 to Maccabi Haifa at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium.
Mohammad Ghadir scored the only goal of the match in the 33rd minute and Betar failed to find the back of the net for the fifth straight match, remaining on a measly 16 goals in 27 league matches so far this season.
Matters aren’t about to get any easier for Betar either, with Jerusalem to host rampant league-leader Ironi Kiryat Shmona at Teddy Stadium on Saturday.
Kiryat Shmona has kept an impressive 18 clean sheets this season and Betar will have to record a significant improvement on the offensive end very soon if it’s to win the battle against relegation.
In the last 20 years, only two teams recorded a lower scoring rate than Betar, and both were ultimately relegated.
“We are in a very difficult situation,” said coach Eli Cohen, who has yet to see his team put the ball in the back of the net in his two matches at the helm.
“We have a serious offensive problem and we weren’t composed enough in front of goal. We need to find a solution for this.” Cohen was at least pleased with the fighting spirit shown by his players.
“We fought hard against a good team,” he added. “My players gave their all and showed that they are real men. I believe that an improved ability will follow the determination.”
Haifa moved up to fifth place with its fourth straight home win and is back in contention for European qualification, trailing second-placed Hapoel Tel Aviv by just seven points.
“We must remember that this is a very special season,” Haifa coach Elisha Levy said. “Many key players left us in the summer and it has taken us time to find our way. However, we are doing so now and I believe that this young squad of players has got a bright future ahead of it.”
Haifa took the lead in the 33rd minute through Ghadir, who was sent through by Yaniv Katan, and raced forward before shooting past Betar ‘keeper Ariel Harush.
Betar rarely threatened, but it did have its moments, with Andriy Pylyavskyi, who is on loan at Betar from Haifa, heading just wide one minute from the break.
Haifa needed goalkeeper Nir Davidovich at his best to maintain its lead in the 65th minute, with the veteran doing well to deny Avi Rikan’s effort from the edge of the area.
Despite Betar’s occasional foray forward, Haifa was always in control and had Alon Turgeman been less selfish it would have surely increased its lead.
However, it ended up needing some good fortune to clinch all three points, with Leonardo Passos Alves’ clever shot from distance only just being tipped over the crossbar by Davidovich two minutes from time to pile even more misery on the despondent Betar.