Betar Jerusalem, Bnei Yehuda and Maccabi Petah Tikva all reached the 10th round of the State Cup on Wednesday. However, their victories were overshadowed by an embarrassing 55-minute delay of the Maccabi Netanya vs Maccabi Petah Tikva match.
Referee Meir Levi was moments away from starting the match, when he was notified that the game could not begin until a fire engine arrived. The Netanya fire department is on strike and the few hundred fans that made the effort to come to the match had to wait until a private fire engine showed up.
"I'm ashamed to be part of Israeli soccer. I cannot believe that something like this can happen in 2006," Maccabi Petah Tikva president Amos Luzon said about the incident.
Maccabi Petah Tikva 2, Maccabi Netanya 0
When the match eventually began, both teams played with caution and rarely threatened their opponents' keeper. Petah Tikva midfielder Stanislav Dobrovin had the first quality chance of the match in the 60th minute when he hit a powerful shot that was well saved by Netanya 'keeper Avi Peretz.
Eight minutes later, Petah Tikva took the lead when Kobi Ganon scored with his head direct from a free kick.
Four minutes after going ahead, the visitors secured their place in the 10th round draw after Rubil Sarsur stole the ball from the Netanya defense and hit an unstoppable shot into the top right corner of the goal.
Bnei Yehuda 2, Hapoel Ashkelon 0
Bnei Yehuda defeated the National League club despite being one-man down for most of the match and avenged last year's Cup quarterfinal defeat to Ashkelon thanks to two goals in three minutes by substitute Eli Biton.
Defender Yair Azulai was sent off in the 42nd minute but his blushes were saved by super-sub Biton, who came to his team's rescue once again.
The match was on its way to extra time when, 12 minutes from the final whistle, Biton scored his first with a lob over the hosts' 'keeper. Three minutes later Biton settled the match with a volley from seven meters.
Betar Jerusalem 4, Maccabi Ironi Kiryat Ata 0
Betar Jerusalem comfortably beat third division Maccabi Ironi Kiryat Ata in what turned out to be an accomplished performance.
Betar took an early lead after just one minute through a stunning Tomer Haliva free kick, but the yellow-and-black survived a shaky first half before scoring three goals in a five-minute span in the second.
"The score was good, but the game wasn't so good," said Betar owner Arkadi Gaydamak. "I thought [Betar] did not play well."
The visiting side was not intimidated by its Premier League opposition and its own yellow-and-black uniform could have been mistaken for Betar.
Striker Shlomi Ben-Hami stood out for Kiryat Ata but should have done even better in some one-on-one situations with Betar second-string 'keeper Guy Solomon.
After Frenchman Jerome Leroy came in for Maor Melikson in the 65th minute, he changed the pace of the game. In the 70th minute, fellow sub Lior Asulin passed to Barak Itzhaki, who slotted in to give the hosts some breathing space with a 2-0 lead.
Three minutes later, Leroy set up Asulin, who scored Betar's third.
Macedonian defender Igor Mitreski (75) capped the scoring following another Leroy cross.
Jeremy Last contributed to this report.