Hapoel Rishon's Zoabi 370.
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
After three years, Hapoel Tel Aviv finally relinquished its hold on the State
Cup on Tuesday night, suffering a shock 1-0 quarterfinal defeat to Hapoel Rishon
Lezion of the National League at the Superland Stadium.
Hapoel became the
first team in 73 years to lift the cup three seasons in a row last May and it
hadn’t lost a cup encounter in regulation since April 2005, winning the
competition in five of the past seven years and only being knocked out in
penalties in 2008 and 2009.
However, Tel Aviv’s poor form in the Premier
League inevitably caught up with it in the cup on Tuesday, with the Reds winning
just one of their past eight league matches, failing to score a single goal from
open play in their past 729 minutes on field.
Sofuan Zoabi scored
Rishon’s winner in the 39th minute, making the most of an awful blunder by
Hapoel’s aging defender Yigal Antebi.
Tel Aviv finally pressured Rishon
in the closing 10 minutes, but ’keeper Daniel Machluf was sensational for the
hosts, making stunning saves from Almog Cohen and Toto Tamuz, who had Machluf
beaten in the 89th minute but still missed the target.
“This is a very
tough moment,” said Tel Aviv coach Freddy David, who replaced Yossi Abuksis last
month. “We let everyone down. We have 10 more matches left in the league and we
will do our best to finish in third place and secure European
Rishon will be joined by Hapoel Ramat Gan and Ironi
Kiryat Shmona in the semifinals at National Stadium in Ramat Gan.
Gan ended the Cinderella cup run of third-division Asi Gilboa with a 2-1 win,
while Kiryat Shmona defeated Bnei Sakhnin 3-1 at Doha Stadium.
semifinalist will be decided on Wednesday, with the floundering Beitar Jerusalem
hosting Maccabi Haifa at Teddy Stadium.
Beitar stunned Maccabi Tel Aviv
in the last 16, but just three days ago was humbled 5-0 by the yellow-and-blue
in Premier League action.
Haifa, on the other hand, beat Maccabi Netanya
2-1 on Saturday for its 12th win in its past 15 league matches to take a
stranglehold on the runners-up position.
In Sakhnin, Imoro Lukman gave
the hosts a 14th-minute lead, but Kiryat Shmona turned the match on its head in
five second-half minutes.
Shimon Abu Hazeira, playing for the first time
in over a month after recovering from an injury, was introduced at halftime and
needed just 50 seconds to net the equalizer.
Five minutes later, Shir
Tzedek headed Kiryat Shmona into the lead and Abu Hazeira clinched the victory
with an easy finish in the 70th minute.
At the picturesque stadium in the
Ta’anakh region, Gilboa gave Ramat Gan a real run for its money, but it conceded
against the run of play in the 33rd minute through lethal striker David
The hosts scored a deserved equalizer in the 58th minute, with
Idan Shpasha converting from the penalty spot, but veteran midfielder Michael
Zandberg netted Ramat Gan’s winner in the 68th minute to secure the 2003 cup
winner a place in the semis for the first time since 2007.