Ironi Kiryat Shmona's Dutch striker Nigel Hasselbaink (left) terrorized Loai Taha (right) and Hapoel Beersheba once again last night, netting the only goal of the match to secure his team’s upset triumph in the quarterfinals of the State Cup.
(photo credit: ANCHO GOSH)
Hapoel Beersheba will have to wait at least one more year to end its State Cup drought after being surprisingly knocked out of the competition by Ironi Kiryat Shmona on Wednesday night, while Beitar Jerusalem safely secured its spot in the semifinals.
While it has won back-to-back Premier League titles to become the new standard- bearer in Israeli soccer, Beersheba’s first and last cup triumph came way back in 1997. Beersheba has since reached the final twice, including three years ago, but in the past two years hasn’t even made it to the last four, with Kiryat Shmona stunning it on both occasions.
Kiryat Shmona claimed a 1-0 win in Wednesday’s second leg for a 2-1 aggregate victory after the first game in Beersheba ended in a 1-1 stalemate.
Dutch striker Nigel Hasselbaink, who netted Kiryat Shomna’s opener in the first leg, scored the winner in the 11th minute to give the hosts a deserved victory.
Beersheba was knocked out by Kiryat Shmona in the round-of-16 last season.
That 2-1 loss in January 2017 remains Beersheba’s only defeat at Turner Stadium in Premier League or State Cup action since the reigning champion entered its new home early in the 2015/16 season.
“This match was really important to us, not just because it was the quarterfinals of the cup and the fact we were facing Beersheba, but because we are really disappointed with our results in the league and wanted to show that we have a good team,” said Kiryat Shmona coach Haim Silvas. “You can surprise an opponent over one match, but to overcome Beersheba over two legs is a great achievement. Now that we have taken out arguably the best team in Israel we want to go all the way.”
The defeat capped a miserable month for Beersheba. Barak Bachar’s side began February with a 1-0 loss to Maccabi Tel Aviv, which saw it relinquish first place in the league standings. It then followed it up with the first leg draw against Kiryat Shmona and league victories over Ashdod SC and Maccabi Petah Tikva.
But Hapoel was lucky to get away with a 1-1 draw against Beitar Jerusalem at Turner on Sunday, which left it in second place, trailing Maccabi on goals scored.
“Kiryat Shmona fought harder, wanted it more and deserved to progress,” admitted Bachar. “This wasn’t an upset because the better team over the two legs advanced. This really hurts but we have to put it behind us.”
Beitar Jerusalem joined Kiryat Shmona and Hapoel Ra’anana in the semis after drawing 0-0 with Hapoel Kfar Saba at Teddy Stadium to complete a 2-0 aggregate victory.
Ra’anana advanced to the last four for the first time in club history on Tuesday, claiming a 5-3 victory over Ashdod SC on penalties, with both legs ending in 1-1 draws.
The fourth and final semifinalist will be determined on Thursday when Hapoel Haifa hosts Maccabi Haifa after their first leg ended in a 2-2 tie.Israel set to host Argentina
The Israel Football Association announced on Wednesday that it has reached an initial agreement to hold a friendly match between the Israel national team and Argentina on June 9, which would be the latter’s final warm-up game prior to the start of this summer’s World Cup in Russia.
The match is set to be held either in Haifa or Jerusalem.
“The discussions will continue over the coming days to finalize all the details and sign the contract,” read an IFA statement.