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1996/97 Championship Games
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December 1996

Harazy and Amsalem Seal 1996
Beitar Tries to Lose and Fails Again

Rishon Le'Zion, December 28 - David Amsalem scored the national league's last goal for 1996, and put a smile on the frustrated faces of the thousands of Jerusalem fans who saw Beitar, playing its worst game this season, beat Hapoel Rishon-Lezion 2:0. Beitar opened with Kornfein, Trittiak, Kahila, Domb, Levy, Amsalem, Talesnikov, Abuxis, Zohar, Harazi and Ohana. The game began with constant Jerualem pressure on the hosts' goal, and Ronen Harazi scored on the 19th minute, after receiving a wonderful assist from Itsik Zohar. Zohar took the ball thru most of the Rishon part of the field, and slided it elegantly to Ronen, who, alone in the right part of the penalty area, did not fail to connect. A powerful shot with his right leg found keeper Sagi Strauss's net, and gave the fans the impression that Beitar was going to mop the floor with its 14th place opponent. From that point on, however, the Jerusalem game was slow and inaccurate, and it seemed that Beitar was only trying to avoid receiving a goal. Rishon's attacks were indeed broken efficiently by the usual aggressive defense, where Asi Domb and Sergei Trittiak excelled. However, Beitar's midfield failed to produce good striking opportunities from the balls that the defense supplied. Itsik Zohar gave the ball away several times after excessive dribbling and inaccurate passes, and even his corner kicks went off-bounds a couple of times. Talesnikov played well on the defense, but the speed of his running was not matched by quick passes. The time wasted by the yellow-and-black midfielders allowed the hosts' defense to regroup each time there was an opportunity for a fast break. Beitar lacked both Hungarian players, Salloi and Pisont, but its weak ability cannot be attributed to this fact. Amsalem had a very mediocre game, but then his chances to be useful were very limited, given the low number of passes that he received. Shmulik Levy was slightly more active, and even gave Harazi a great assist in the second half of the game, but most of the time his offensive play was down to the level of the rest of the team. Shmulik was injured in the second half, and was replaced by Raanan Der'i on the 75th minute. Eitan Mizrahi replaced Abuxis on the 70th minute, and had a few good moves, especially after Shmulik Levy's replacement. Eitan took Shmulik's place in the right wing, and from that position produced a great striking opportunity for Eli Ohana on the 90th minute. His elegant heel-pass left Ohana in a one-on-one situation with the Strauss, but Eli's kick went straight into the diving keeper's hands. A minute later, Asi Domb's long pass found David Amsalem in the left corner of the penalty area; David dribbled past one defender, and his shot from within the box found the net after hitting Ohana's chest. This victory guaranteed Beitar's informal title as the first-round champion, with a promising 7 point lead over the second place holder, Hapoel Petah Tikva.

It Wasn't a Great Game but
You Should've Been There

  • Itsik Zohar - a new meaning to the term Free-Kick
  • Eli Ohana's 10th Goal in 13 Games
  • Teddy Stadium - packed like it has never been before

Teddy Stadium, Decemebr 21 - 6 years after Hapoel Jerusalem beat Beitar on the old YMCA field and sent the yellow-and-black team to the first division, Jerusalem has finally seen a derby again. The fact that Beitar beat Hapoel 2:1 as expected was almost secondary in the great event that packed the stadium with 13000 people - at least 1000 above its nominal capacity. Thousands were left outside the stone walls of Israel's most beautiful stadium, and were forced to watch the game on a semi-piratic broadcast of the local TV channel. 50 Shekel tickets were sold for 80-100 an hour and a half before the game, and by the time the players were on the field, rumors talked about people literally fighting over 1000 shekel "repriced" tickets. For many spectators, this was the first soccer game they attended in several years; the tradition of the Jerusalem derby proved stronger than their decision to give up soccer. Beitar opened with Kornfein, Tritiak, Kahila, Domb, Amsalem, Levy, Abuxis, Talesnikov, Zohar, Harazi and Ohana. The first 20 minutes were nervous and inaccurate on the part of both teams, and no real scoring chances were noted. Beitar owned the midfield, but could not approach the penalty area, while Hapoel tried some far shots that bounced against assorted objects in the far end of the stadium. Around the 20th minute Beitar's advantage began showing closer to Baku's goal, and on the 25th minute Ronen Harazi scored a typical virtuoso goal, but the lineman already had his flag up. The pressure got stronger by the minute, and on the 32nd minute a Levy-Ohana move outside the 16 box was stopped by two consecutive Hapoel fouls. Referee Amit Klein granted Beitar a free kick, about 4 meters off the right side of the box. Knowing what this meant, Hapoel's defense did not make a fuss over this decision, and did not even bother putting up a decent wall. They just wanted to receive their goal quietly and go on with the game. Itsik Zohar cooperated - he placed the ball on the spot, stepped back, took a couple of running steps and buried the ball in the left side of Baku's goal. As expected, this goal drew Hapoel to a more open game, and on the 44th minute one of the numerous Beitar attacks was stopped by Hapoel's defense; this time, however, the ball was deflected back into the 16 box, and found its way to Eli Ohana who rolled it under Baku's body into the goal. After the traditional circle was formed at the edge of the field, the referee called half-time. The second half was opened with a Beitar blitz on the red goal, but Zohar, Amsalem and Abuxis (twice) missed excellent scoring opportunities. On the other side, Hapoel was given a free kick on the left edge of Beitar's 16 box. Old timer Michell Dayan reminded the audience that sophisticated free kicks were not copyrighted by Itsik Zohar, and elegantly shot the ball into the far left corner of Kornfein's goal on the 64th minute. Beitar continued to attack, but it seemed that the midfielders were more concerned with giving Harazi a stage for his comeback than they were about reinforcing the victory. As often happens in such situations, Beitar's concern not to let go of the victory gave Hapoel several chances to equalize, although only one came dangerously close, when a corner kick was headed sideways by a Hapoel player, and the ball travelled across Kornfein's goal, with no red leg to intervene and push it in. On the 75th minute, Eitan Mizrahi replaced Abuxis, whos seemed slightly injured. Eitar played well on the right wing, and gave Harazi one superb long pass which Ronen did not manage to overtake. When the game was over, Hapoel's fans stayed in their places, cheering their team for several minutes. In the current state of affairs, scoring a goal against Beitar Jerusalem was the most they could expect from their team, and they were not disappointed.

A League of their Own

Shmulik Levy and Eitan Mizrahi Join the Feast as Beitar Crushes Hapoel Tel Aviv 4:1

Tel Aviv, December 7 - Bloomfield stadium, which has hosted some of Beitar's most agonizing defeats in the last 3 years, served today as a stage for the first foursome of Beitar this season. 3 spectacular goals by Salloi, Zohar and Levy, plus a handsome dessert by Eitan Mizrahi, left Beitar in the first place, while pushing Hapoel Tel-Aviv deep into the bottom of the league table. Many people expected, or at least hoped, that Hapoel would repeat its suprising achievement from last year, when it defeated Beitar 4:0, playing most of the game with only 10 players. This year, however, Hapoel only managed to maintain the suspense for 43 minutes. It had some good scoring opportunities during the first 15 minutes of the match, including a near own-goal by Shmulik Levy on the 3rd minute. Kornfein, as usual, kept the danger away, with some very impressive saves. Then, on the 32nd minute, it was Sagiv Eliyahoo who received an excellent pass from Alon Hazan, and shot from 14 meters toward the right corner of Beitar's goal. Kornfein managed to stop the ball, but Eliyahoo literally pushed the rebound from a sitting position, back into the goal. Hapoel was ahead by one goal - the only team except Maccabi Tel-Aviv to do so against Beitar this season. This goal reflected Tel-Aviv's advantage on the field, but from that point on Beitar's play became more effective; within 10 minutes Salloi almost headed in an equalizer, but the ball met the crossbar. Then, on the 43rd minute, a nice combination of passes between the two Istvans ended with Salloi's powerful shot from almost 20 meters into the far right corner of the Tel-Aviv goal. On the 47th minute, A Tel-Aviv defender touched the ball with his hand about 2 meters outside the 16 box, and Beitar's crowd began shouting Itsik Zohar's name. Zohar has already scored on 3 such opportunities this season, and Hapoel's keepr, Shavit Elimemlech, was justifiably worried. Like the rest of the spectators, he was wondering which corner Zohar would aim for, and as Itsiks's foot met the ball, he gambled on the right corner. Itsik, however, wanted some variety in his free kicks, and his kick went straight into the center of the goal, putting Beitar ahead by one. A few minutes later it was Zohar again who found Salloi with a masterpiece of a pass. Istvan advanced into the 16 box for a one on one confrontation with Elimelech, but the goal-keeper blocked his shot and caught the rebound. Pisont was replaced by Talesnikov on the 78th minute, and a couple of minute later a cross by Eli Ohana was headed in by a diving Shmulik Levy. Ronen Harazi made his (really) final appearance for this season, replacing Zohar. Eitan Mizrahi, who replaced Shmulik Levy on the 82nd minute, set the score on 4:1 two minutes to time after Yossi Abuxis's assist. Eitan found himself alone on the far right corner of the 16 box, and after advancing a few meters shot into the near corner under the leaping keeper's body.

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Last updated November 30 1996 [Field Map]
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