Maccabi Haifa players Nikita Rukavytsya (left), Sintiyahu Salalik (center) and Mohammed Awad celebrate during last night’s win over Hapoel Tel Aviv on penalties in the State Cup round-of-32..
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Maccabi Haifa survived a massive scare to overcome Hapoel Tel Aviv 5-3 in a penalty shootout on Sunday night, advancing to the round-of-16 of the State Cup where it will host Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Haifa, which has lost three straight Premier League matches and is winless in its past six, took the lead through Nikita Rukavytsya in the 11th minute. Or Ostvind equalized for Hapoel, which is in second place in the National League, in the 27th minute and the tie had to be decided in penalties after regulation and extra time ended in a 1-1 draw.
Haifa converted all five of its penalties, with Stefanos Athanasiadis clinching the victory after Daniel Gretz had missed Hapoel’s second spot kick.
Haifa took the lead after 11 minutes in Petah Tikva, with Rukavytsya being left with an easy finish after a quick break forward. Mohammed Awad, who set up the first goal, should have doubled his team’s advantage seven minutes later, but failed to find the back of the net after rounding goalkeeper Arik Yanko.
Hapoel made the most of the reprieve, with Ostvind equalizing from the spot in the 27th minute. Defender Rami Gershon inadvertently blocked Ostvind’s shot towards goal with his hand and the striker stepped up to convert the penalty.
Hapoel dominated the second half, but couldn’t score and the tie went into extra time. With neither team scoring again in the additional 30 minutes, the teams were only ultimately separated by penalties.
Earlier Sunday, Hapoel Shfar’am became the third team from the third division to advance to the last 16, ending the run of Bnei Musmus, the lone remaining fifth division side in the draw, with a 2-1 win.
Shfar’am will next visit the winner of the final round-of-32 tie between Ironi Kiryat Shmona and Hapoel Afula of the National League.
Kiryat Shmona will host the match next Tuesday after it had to be postponed due to the stormy weather on Friday.
Elsewhere in the round-of-16, which will be held between January 23-25, Hapoel Beersheba visits Hapoel Ramat Gan in a repeat of the 2003 final won by the latter.
There is guaranteed to be at least one none-Premier League club in the quarterfinals, with National League leader Hapoel Kfar Saba being drawn to visit Beitar Kfar Saba of the third division. Ness Ziona, also of the third tier, will visit Hapoel Ra’anana after stunning Bnei Sakhnin.
Elsewhere, Hapoel Marmorek of the second division will look to upset Beitar Jerusalem at Teddy Stadium. In two all-Premier League ties, Hapoel Acre welcomes Hapoel Haifa and Maccabi Netanya goes to Ashdod SC.
Premier League action resumes on Monday, with Hapoel Haifa hosting Beitar Jerusalem in a match the winner of which will move up to first place for at least 24 hours. Haifa is in second place, one point back of Hapoel Beersheba which hosts Bnei Yehuda on Tuesday, while Beitar is in third, two points further back.
Elsewhere Monday, Hapoel Acre welcomes Hapoel Ashkelon and Ashdod SC hosts Bnei Sakhnin, which will be playing for the first time since the sacking of coach Felix Naim, who became the ninth head coach to be fired in the Premier League since the start of the season. On Tuesday, Maccabi Tel Aviv also hosts Maccabi Netanya and Ironi Kiryat Shmona travels to Maccabi Petah Tikva.
Maccabi Haifa visits Ra’anana on Wednesday night.