St. Ettiene rule in Jerusalem

French side come into hostile Teddy stadium and defeats Betar 2-1, putting Europa League in jeopardy for Jerusalemites.

Shai Landesman,

Betar players before the game
Betar players before the game
Photo: Official Facebook page (Moshe Ashkenazi)

On the same night in which the Israeli soccer champions were humbled in Scotland, Betar Jerusalem lost to St. Etienne at home, with the French team quieting a raucous Teddy stadium crowd by winning 2-1, in a disappointing result for the Israelis.

The two-leg tie will conclude next week in France, with Betar needing at least a 2-0 win to go through, and a 2-1 win to send the tie to extra time. Doable, but difficult, and Jerusalem will be ruing the missed opportunity from last night (Wednesday).

Betar opened the game dreamily, putting consistent pressure on the St. Etienne goal until Idan Vered, newly acquired and already a fan favorite, scored with an excellent low shot in the 8th minute, sending the crowd into delirium.

The lead didn't last long, however, as Fabian Lemoin got on the end of a looping cross from the right side in the 15th minute, lunging and crashing the ball into the net beyond Betar Goalie Boris Kleinman.

As Betar reeled from the goal, the French mustered another, with considerable help from Kleinman. Florentin Pogba (brother of most expensive player in the world Paul Pogba) only managed to get a weak touch on a cross from a corner, but the ball somehow snuk through the Betar keeper's legs and dribbled over the goal-line.

Jerusalem played better in the second half, producing several chances, with Left-Back Marcel Heister and Winger Omer Atzili coming closest, but ultimately failing to equalize.

Betar were the better team for most of the match, but couldn't get the result to show for it, and now must go get a win on the road to have a chance to make history and advance to the Europa League group stage for the first time.

Coach Ran Ben-Shimon was adamant that his charges have a chance next week: "I'm disappointed by the result but happy with the performance I saw. We controlled the whole game except for maybe ten minutes. We definitely have a chance next week. We're going there to win. We have guys here who believe."

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