Ironi Kiryat Shmona will face Maccabi Netanya in the State Cup final in three weeks after a dramatic semifinal double-header at National Stadium in Ramat Gan on Wednesday night.
David Manga’s 91st-minute winner gave Kiryat Shmona a 2-1 victory over Hapoel Beersheba in the second semi of the day after National League champion Netanya beat Maccabi Petah Tikva 2-1 to progress to its first cup final since 1978.
After challenging Maccabi Tel Aviv for the Premier League title for much of the season, Beersheba was hoping to have something to show for its superb campaign by lifting the cup.
Beersheba was on course to move within one win of its first cup triumph since 1997 after taking the lead through Glynor Plet’s header in the 59th minute.
However, Ahmed Abed equalized for Kiryat Shmona with an unstoppable effort from the edge of the area in the 71st minute and Manga rounded ‘keeper Austin Ejide in stoppage time to send Kiryat Shmona into its second straight cup final and break the hearts of around 14,000 Beersheba fans in attendance.
“We recorded a great victory after playing not such a great match,” said Kiryat Shmona coach Barak Bachar, who is hoping to go on and claim the cup after last year’s disappointing defeat in the final to Hapoel Ramat Gan. “I’m not getting carried away because I have unpleasant memories from last year’s final. We haven’t done anything yet.”
Netanya’s players were visibly nervous at the start of the first semifinal of the day. However, they would seize control of the contest once they relaxed and took a deserved lead five minutes into the second half through Idan Shriki.
Netanya doubled its advantage and effectively secured its place in the final in the 88th minute, with the sensational Eran Levy doing all the hard work down the left flank before squaring the ball for Olarenwaju Kayode, who made no mistake from close range.
Diya Saba got a goal back for Petah Tikva from the penalty spot in the second minute of stoppage time, but Netanya would not be denied, finally advancing once more to a cup final, setting up a meeting with Kiryat Shmona for a place in history.