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Photo by: Adi Avishai
Hap TA sneaks by Kfar Saba into quarters
By ALLON SINAI
27/02/2013
Reds still on track for fourth-straight State Cup title; Ramat Gan, Rishon, K8 all advance.
 
Hapoel Tel Aviv extended its State Cup unbeaten streak to 17 matches on Tuesday night, advancing to the quarterfinals with a 1-0 victory at Hapoel Kfar Saba of the National League.

Toto Tamuz kept alive Hapoel’s dream of winning the cup for a fourth straight year by scoring the only goal of the match from the penalty spot in the 68th minute after referee Liran Vaksberger inexplicably gifted the visitors a spot kick.

There will also be one third division team in the quarterfinals after Asi Gilboa surprised Hapoel Ashkelon of the National League, winning 4-2 in a penalty shootout after extra-time ended in a 1-1 tie.

The first 90 minutes finished in a goalless deadlock and Sultan Zuabi gave the hosts the lead in the 10th minute of extra-time before Ashkelon’s Jonathan Assous forced penalties with an equalizer five minutes from the final whistle.

However, Ashkelon would miss two of its first four penalty kicks and Alon Bozurgi secured Gilboa’s progress.

There was plenty more drama on Tuesday.

The all-National League showdown between Hapoel Rishon Lezion and Hapoel Ra’anana also had to be decided on penalties, with Lior Asulin scoring Rishon’s decisive kick to clinch a 4-3 victory after extra-time ended in a 2-2 draw.

Hapoel Ramat Gan survived a mighty scare against third division Hapoel Afula, winning 5-3 in extra-time. The first 90 minutes ended in a 3-3 draw, but Ran Itzhak completed a hat-trick in extratime stoppage time to give Ramat Gan a 4-3 lead before Ben Ben-Yair poured salt on Afula’s wounds with another goal.

Also Tuesday, Ironi Kiryat Shmona beat Maccabi Yavne 2-0 thanks to goals from Dan Eibinder (24) and Adrian Rochet (26).

The three remaining quarterfinalists will be determined on Wednesday, with at least two Premier League teams to be knocked out.

Bnei Lod of the National League hosts Bnei Sakhnin, but the highlights of the day will be the Haifa derby and especially the showdown between Maccabi Tel Aviv and Beitar Jerusalem at Bloomfield Stadium.

Maccabi Haifa enters its meeting with cross-town rival Hapoel at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium as a firm favorite after winning 12 of its past 14 Premier League matches.

However, despite remaining in the relegation zone, Hapoel enters Wednesday’s encounter brimming with confidence after playing some of its best soccer of the season in recent weeks, winning its past two league games.

Beitar is just eight points ahead of the relegation zone after picking up only a single point over its past five league games and will be looking to resurrect its season with an upset at Bloomfield.

The turmoil that followed the signing of Dzhabrail Kadiyev and Zaur Sadayev from Chechen club Terek Grozny completely derailed Beitar’s campaign, and the tension at the club was clear for all to see in Monday’s bust-up between coach Eli Cohen and midfielder Eran Levy.

The two clashed in training, and not for the first time, following Sunday’s 4-1 humbling at Maccabi Haifa and Levy will miss Wednesday’s match after being suspended by the club until he faces a team disciplinary committee on Thursday.
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