Beitar Jerusalem 1-1 Maccabi Netanya
Beitar Jerusalem’s Upper Playoff hopes took a massive hit as they only picked up one point in a draw with Maccabi Netanya. Zaur Sadaev, the new Chechnyan Muslim recruit for Beitar struck first in minute 48 in the 2nd half as Omri Ben Harush equalized for the visitors in the 77th minute. In a dull first half that left little to be desired few chances were produced and the clubs headed to the locker rooms at halftime deadlocked in a scoreless draw. As the second half began it looked as if the clubs both woke up and solid runs were created by the midfielders of both clubs. As Sadaev took a lead pass from Avi Rikan it seemed he knocked it down with his arm and then put a nice ball right on the ground to the left of the Netanya ‘keeper to notch the first ever goal by a Muslim player fro Beitar Jerusalem. 99% of the crowd gave Sadaev a standing ovation while unfortunately for 300 odd fans it was too much for them to bear and they picked up and walked out en mass from Teddy Stadium in protest against their own club.
Netanya began pressing Beitar as Achmad Saba’a and Ali Khatib each had numerous chances to find the tying marker but it wasn’t until Omri Ben Harush slammed in his first goal of the season at the 77th minute that Beitar’s bunker was busted and the chance to have their destiny in their own hands next week when they play table leader Maccabi Tel Aviv died.
After the Netanya goal they kept applying the pressure on Beitar as the home side looked disorganized on the pitch and were hanging on to the one point with terrific saves from ‘keeper Ariel Harosh and near misses by the Netanya strikers.
Zaur Sadaev said, “I can feel the love of the fans who support me and I just want to succeed and help Beitar. I came to play soccer.” Club Chairman Yitzik Korenfine added, “The people who left Teddy after Sadaev’s goal are not fans of Beitar Jerusalem. I have no problem with these people, they can also not bother coming back to matches in the future.”
Only 5,000 people including 500 Netanya supporters came to the crucial match with tremendous implications for Beitar and their playoff aspirations. With the draw Ramat HaSharon sits in the last upper playoff position with 34 points, Beitar is in 7th with 33 points and Ashdod is in 8th with 32 points. Ramat HaSharon plays in Beer Sheva next Saturday evening and Beitar visits Maccabi Tel Aviv at Bloomfield Stadium Sunday night, but the importance of that match will only be known after the game in Beer Sheva. It could mean a chance to play the top clubs or a chance to muddle in mediocrity for the balance of the season. Only time will tell.