Soccer: Betar Jerusalem eases past Bnei Yehuda 3-0

Toto Tamuz, Michael Zandberg and new signing Cristian Alvarez score.

Betar Jerusalem easily defeated Bnei Yehuda 3-0 at Teddy Stadium on Sunday night in its first league game of the season. Toto Tamuz, Michael Zandberg and new signing Cristian Alvarez got the goals for the home side, leaving the visitors with no chance of a comeback. Following the disappointment of the loss to FC Copenhagen in the Champions League 10 days earlier, the win was just about what coach Itzhak Schum was looking for to restore the confidence of last season's champion. But, although the home side put in a solid performance, it was far from perfect. Idan Tal, brought back to Israel in the summer following an unsuccessful period at Bolton Wanderers in the English Premiership, was again weak and ineffective, giving the ball away all too often. Goalkeeper Tvrtko Kale made some important stops but still looked somewhat shaky. Striker Barak Itzhaki had an uncharacteristically poor game, wasting a number of opportunities. However, Derek Boateng, who set up the 11th minute goal for Tamuz, which put his team ahead, was impressive for Betar, controlling the midfield throughout the match. Tamuz always looked like scoring. Bnei Yehuda were lively and put pressure on the home side, especially at the start of the second half, but they just couldn't make it count. Betar registered its first effort on goal after just two minutes when Arik Benado headed over the bar from an Idan Tal corner kick. On six minutes Bnei Yehuda had its first chance when Asi Baldut headed wide of Tvrtko Kale's left hand post. The game settled quickly and Betar took the lead through a simple striker's goal from Tamuz. It was the second time in as many minutes that Boateng had attempted to thread a ball through the Bnei Yehuda defense to Tamuz. The first time it had been easily intercepted but on this occassion the Bnei Yehuda back four were caught sleeping and Tamuz wasted no time to slot home his first goal of the season. The Bnei Yehuda defense was clearly rattled and was giving away corners at an alarming rate. Their coach Nitzan Shirazi was becoming visibly nervous as his team became increasingly weaker at the back. However the team in orange soon came close to finding an equalizer when Jose Duarte's strong header from a freekick bounced agonisingly wide on the half hour mark. Betar was then on the back foot. Arik Benado went off injured and was replaced by veteran David Amsalem in the center of defense, which weakened the home side. Bnei Yehuda came out of the blocks strongest in the second half, putting Betar under pressure right from the restart with a succession of corner kicks which tested Kale, forcing him into a number of finger tip saves. But suddenly it was 2-0 to Betar. Fifteen minutes into the second half Zandberg broke free on the left hand side, stormed towards the goal totally unchallenged and fired in a shot which zipped in at a tight angle between the goalkeeper and his right hand post, leaving Aiyenugba with no chance at all. The third goal for the hosts came a few minutes before the final whistle when Alvarez headed in from a Zandberg corner, prompting ecstatic celebrations among the home support.