Beitar Jerusalem overcame a one-man disadvantage and an early deficit to continue the new-found momentum under new coach Sharon Mimer on Monday night, beating Hapoel Tel Aviv 2-1 in Petah Tikva.
Beitar has looked like a different team since Mimer replaced Ran Ben-Shimon two weeks ago, beating Ironi Kiryat Shmona 2-0 in the first leg of the State Cup quarterfinals before thrashing Hapoel Ra’anana 4-0 in league action last week.
Beitar registered two straight wins in league play under Ben-Shimon only once in its first 21 games of the season, but needed just two contests to do so with Mimer.
Beitar also took a significant step towards securing its place in the championship playoffs for which the top six qualify, opening a six-point margin over Ironi Kiryat Shmona in seventh place with three regular season games to play.
Jerusalem, which moved back up to fourth place, got off to the worst possible start, with Hapoel taking the lead after less than three minutes. Ben Reichert was left unmarked and headed in the opener to the delight of the local fans.
Matters went from bad to worse for Beitar in the 34th minute, with David Keltjens being harshly sent off after receiving a second yellow card for a foul on Hassan Abu Zayed.
However, Hapoel couldn’t capitalize on its one-man advantage and Beitar leveled the score nine minutes later. Tel Aviv’s defense couldn’t clear a cross and Jesus Rueda smashed in the equalizer.
Beitar was also the more dangerous team in the second half and scored a deserved winner in the 62nd minute.
French defender Antoine Conte lobbed the ball for in-form forward Itay Shechter, who made no mistake with his header from close range.
Hapoel sent players forward in search of a second goal, but struggled to create chances, leaving the Reds in last place in the standings, three points from safety.
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