Hapoel Kfar Saba players celebrating (Udi Zitiat).
(photo credit: UDI ZITIAT)
Hapoel Beersheba cruised into the State Cup quarterfinals with a 2-0 victory over Hapoel Ramat Gan on Tuesday night, while Hapoel Haifa required a stoppage-time winner to overcome Hapoel Acre.
Beersheba suffered a shock exit at the hands of Ironi Kiryat Shmona in the round-of-16 last season, but kept alive its hopes of claiming the cup for the first time since 1997 after easily outplaying its National League opponent in Ramat Gan.
Guy Melamed gave the two-time reigning Premier League champion the lead after 33 minutes, with Anthony Nawkaeme’s accurate penalty 10 minutes later effectively deciding the outcome of the match before the break.
Haifa needed an Alon Turgeman goal in the 91st-minute to claim a 2-1 win against Acre, which is in last place in the Premier League.
Haifa has fallen five points behind Maccabi Tel Aviv and Beersheba in the league standings after picking up just a single point from its past three matches. It almost found itself in unexpected trouble on Tuesday, with Turgeman’s 17th-minute opener being canceled out by Ben Azubel four minutes later. But with extra time looming, Turgeman booked Haifa’s spot in the next round with a close range header.
Ironi Kiryat Shmona was forced to dig deep before securing its progress, only defeating Hapoel Shfar’am of the third division 2-1 after extra time. Shfar’am led through Kassem Najer’s 35th-minute penalty after Kiryat Shmona lost Idan Nahmias to a red card. Ahmed Abed (77) leveled the score and both teams entered extra time with 10 men following Yihab Oyker’s sending off in the 85th minute.
The tie would ultimately be decided in the 112th minute, with Shfar’am’s Yihiya Kharib the tragic hero after heading the ball into his own net.
Hapoel Ra’anana ended Ness Ziona’s Cinderella run with a 2-0 victory over the third division side. Karam Arshid (6) and Mohammad Shaker (92) scored for Ra’anana.
In the only round-of-16 match including two non-Premier League sides, Hapoel Kfar Saba of the National League beat Beitar Kfar Saba of the third division 3-1.
David Shani (46) gave Beitar hope of registering an upset after canceling out Idan David’s seventh-minute opener.
Hapoel would move back in front through Peter Nworah in the 72nd minute and moments later Beitar lost Shani to a red card. David secured the win nine minutes from time, but the triumph would soon be overshadowed by a controversial decision by club owner Itzhak Shum.
Despite the fact the team qualified for the last eight and sits in second place in the National League standings, which leads to Premier League promotion at the end of the season, Shum met with head coach Messay Dego following the match and told him he was fired. Dego claimed that the main reason behind his sacking was his reluctance to play Shum’s grandson, Tom Shelach.
Round-of-16 action continues with two more matches on Wednesday.
In the most intriguing tie of the round, at least on paper, Maccabi Haifa hosts Maccabi Tel Aviv in a repeat of the 2016 final. Haifa stunned Tel Aviv 1-0 in that final and a victory on Wednesday would arguably be even more surprising.
Tel Aviv climbed to the summit of the league standings, ahead of Beersheba on goal difference, after defeating Hapoel Ashkelon 3-1 on Sunday for its sixth straight league win. The yellow-and-blue has won eight matches in a row over all competitions, and just last week outplayed Haifa on the road in a 3-1 victory.
Haifa’s disastrous season continued with a 0-0 draw at Ashdod SC on Saturday.
Also Wednesday, Ashdod hosts Maccabi Netanya. The final quarterfinalist will be decided on Thursday, when Beitar Jerusalem welcomes Hapoel Marmorek Rehovot of the National League.