Maccabi faces Hapoel in Haifa derby in cup quarterfinals

Hapoel Haifa is enjoying its best season since winning an historic championship in 1998/99, currently sitting in fourth place in the standings.

February 6, 2018 01:58
2 minute read.
Maccabi Petah Tikva midfielder Yossi Benayoun.

Maccabi Petah Tikva midfielder Yossi Benayoun.. (photo credit: DANNY MARON)

With just one European tie to its name over the last four seasons, Maccabi Haifa could hardly be more desperate to qualify for continental competition. However, with just a single win over its past 11 Premier League games leaving it 11 points back of the top sixth who will advance to the championship playoffs, Haifa’s hopes of playing in Europe next season rest solely on winning the State Cup.

The Greens stunned Maccabi Tel Aviv 3-0 to progress to the quarterfinals, in which they will face Hapoel Haifa over two legs, the first of which will be played on Tuesday.

Haifa’s brief Europa League appearance in the 2016/17 campaign was the result of a cup triumph the previous season. But in order to lift the cup for the second time in three years Haifa will need to somehow register a dramatic improvement on the form it has shown for much of this season.

The arrival of new head coach Fred Rutten hasn’t had the desirable effect to date, with Haifa drawing with Maccabi Petah Tikva before losing 3-1 to Beitar Jerusalem on Saturday, in his two games in charge.

Hapoel Haifa, on the other hand, is enjoying its best season since winning an historic championship in 1998/99, currently sitting in fourth place in the standings, only three points back of Hapoel Beersheba in first.

Also Tuesday, Beitar Jerusalem visits the lone National League team in the last eight, Hapoel Kfar Saba. Quarterfinal action continues on Wednesday, with Hapoel Beersheba hosting Ironi Kiryat Shmona in the first leg and Ashdod SC welcoming Hapoel Ra’anana.

On Monday, Yossi Benayoun experienced a dream debut for Maccabi Petah Tikva, scoring once and setting up another goal in a 3-0 home win over Hapoel Ashkelon.

Lidor Cohen gave Petah Tikva the lead in the 50th minute and Benayoun’s big moment arrived two minutes later when he doubled his new team’s lead with a chip over goalkeeper Dele Aiyenugba. The 37-year-old then set up Gregory Tade in the 61st minute and Petah Tikva moved up to seventh place, closing to within six points of Bnei Yehuda in sixth.

Ashkelon remained in the relegation zone, one point from safety.

Monday’s results: Premier League Round 21: Maccabi Petah Tikva 3, Hapoel Asheklon 0.

Tuesday on TV: State Cup quarterfinals 1st leg: Hapoel Kfar Saba vs Beitar Jerusalem (live on Sport5+Live at 7 p.m.); Maccabi Haifa vs Hapoel Haifa (live on Sport5 at 9 p.m.)

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