Beitar Jerusalem hosted Spanish giants Atletico Madrid for a friendly at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem as the hosts took a 2-1 win thanks to a Maor Bozaglo brace. A crowd of close to 30,000 fans of both squads came for an evening of football and fun as everyone involved with the exhibition game celebrated throughout the contest.
Atletico Coach Diego Simeone started a mixed lineup of veterans and youngsters but made sure to bring on the French star Antoine Griezmann in the second half for his final appearance for the La Liga outfit. Beitar Head Coach Nir Klinger countered with his strongest lineup plus the recently retired Yossi Benayoun who graced Teddy Stadium one more time.
Beitar went on the attack in the opening minutes but Antoine Conte and David Keltjens’s chances went awry. However, Maor Bozaglo didn’t miss his opportunity to score on the grand stage and slammed home a gorgeous Keltjens cross in the 14th minute to beat the Atletico keeper Adan to give the host’s a 1:0 lead.
Thomas attempted to find the equalizer via a pair of free kicks but came up short as Beitar keeper Itamar Nitzan came up big with the timely stops. Following an ankle injury to Diego Costa, Atletico turned up the heat with chances by Vitolo and Koke but Beitar were able to quell the threat.
In the 40th minute Thomas laced a laser towards the Beitar keeper but Nitzan was again up to the task. Just before the break, Thomas teamed up with Koke and Alvaro Morata but the ball just skipped through the box and out as the sides headed into halftime with Beitar clinging to a 1:0 advantage.
Antoine Griezmann was introduced to a round of applause when he entered the game at the start of the second half and began the Atletico attack as Montero just missed the post with a sharp header. However, it didn’t take him long to find the equalizer as he put home a penalty in the 49th minute after a reckless tackle by Beitar defender Tal Ben Haim.
But as Atletico continued to apply pressure, Gadi Kinda and Buzgalo went almost the length of the pitch on a counterattack as the latter slotted home a beauty of a strike to give the yellow-and-black a 2-1 lead in the 59th minute.
Immediately following the goal, both sides made wholesale changes including the introduction of keeper Dudu Goresh who will retire after the game. Gadi Kinda came in off the right side but his cross was sent out by an Atletico defender while Yakov Brihen’s scorcher went out in the 67th minute.
Goresh made the save off a Griezmann free kick to the delight of the crowd while both sides continued to show quality at either end of the pitch. The squads continued to bring on substitutes as the game wound down and Beitar wrapped up a 2-1 victory.