Hapoel Beersheba avoided the upset bug and advanced to the quarterfinals of the State Cup for the first time since 2003 on Wednesday, beating Hapoel Kfar Saba of the third division 2-0 on the road.
Beersheba dropped six points behind Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Premier League standings after suffering a 3-1 defeat to the yellow-and-blue on Sunday, snapping a 14-match unbeaten streak.
Elisha Levy’s team was far from its best on Wednesday, but moved ahead in the 32nd minute after Maor Buzaglo’s free kick took a wicked deflection.
Michael Kintaba squandered a superb opportunity to level the score in the 54th minute, with goalkeeper Austin Ejide passing his first test of the night with flying colors.
Less than a minute later, Glynor Plet secured Beersheba’s progress, building on his recent excellent form.
“The most important thing in a match like this is to get through it safely,” said Beersheba coach Elisha Levy.
“Kfar Saba deserves a lot of credit. They are a lot better than a third division team.”
With Maccabi Tel Aviv, Maccabi Haifa and Hapoel Tel Aviv all already out, Levy admitted that Beersheba has a superb opportunity to lift the trophy for the first time since 1997.
Ironi Kiryat Shmona and Maccabi Petah Tikva also advanced on Wednesday, both overcoming top-tier foes.
Kiryat Shmona beat Hapoel Haifa 3-0 at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium thanks to goals from Roei Kehat (35), David Manga (46) and Weeam Amasha (85), who scored for the first time since leaving Maccabi Haifa.
Petah Tikva defeated Hapoel Ra’anana 2-1 after extratime.
Tomer Elbaz (8) handed Petah Tikva the lead, but Asi Baldut’s penalty (45) forced an additional 30 minutes.
Lidor Cohen booked Petah Tikva’s quarterfinal berth in the 100th minute, beating four players before releasing an unstoppable effort from the edge of the box.
Wednesday’s three winners join fellow Premier League clubs Beitar Jerusalem and Hapoel Ramat Hasharon, who advanced on Tuesday, with Maccabi Netanya and Hapoel Rishon Lezion of the National League, as well as Ma’alot-Tarshiha of the fourth division to also all be part of Sunday’s quarterfinals draw.