Hapoel Tel Aviv 298.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Hapoel Tel Aviv won its second consecutive State Cup Wednesday night by defeating National League club Hapoel Ashkelon 5-4 in a penalty shootout.
The teams were tied at 1-1 after 120 minutes in what was a surprisingly close match.
Ashkelon put up a brave fight and pushed its Premier League opponent hard.
Ashkelon's Gaston Sangoy scored the first penalty of the shootout, but Tel Aviv's Walid Badier tied the score with a shot into the roof of the net.
Natan Shukri gave the underdogs the lead once more, but Luciano De Bruno easily tied the score with his penalty.
Moshe Ben Sa'adon and Salim Toama both scored their sides' third penalties, with Hanan Elkayam and Yigal Antebi netting the next two shots.
Maor Zohar missed Ashleon's fifth penalty kick of the shootout and Tel Aviv clinched the title after Javier Paes successfully converted on the final shot.
Both teams went in search of an early goal and created chances immediately. Four minutes into the match, Tel Aviv midfielder Gili Vermot created space for himself in the Ashkelon box, but could only release a weak, left-footed shot.
Just three minutes later, Nahum stunned Israeli soccer. The Ashkelon striker volleyed in Sangoy's accurate cross and gave his club the surprise lead.
It took Tel Aviv 13 minutes to recover from the shock, as Elyaniv Barda almost equalized with a volley from five meters out that was well saved by 'keeper Avi Peretz.
Surprisingly, Ashkelon didn't settle for its one-goal advantage and came agonizingly close to doubling its lead several times in the remainder of the half.
Tel Aviv struggled to create scoring opportunities and was lucky to go into the break only one goal down.
In the 27th minute, Tel Aviv 'keeper Neil Abarbanel only barely cleared Sangoy's shot from 30 meters.
Sangoy was by far the most active player on the field and continued to threaten Abarbanel's goal at will. The Argentinian was only centimeters away from lobbing the ball over the Tel Aviv 'keeper in the 34th minute and less than 60 seconds later was denied once again by Abarbanel, this time from a long-range shot.
However, one minute before halftime, Sangoy squandered the best chance of all. The forward raced clear of the Tel Aviv defense and only had the 'keeper to beat, but, to the reds' relief, completely mis-hit his shot and fired well wide of the goal.
Tel Aviv began to dominate at the start of the second half and pushed the tiring Ashkelon to its goal.
In the 58th minute, Toama had a golden opportunity to level the score, but hit his left-footed shot from the edge of the box just wide of Peretz's goal.
Tel Aviv's pressure eventually paid off. Vermot's pinpoint cross in the 75th minute was met perfectly by substitute De Bruno, who scored with a diving header.
Two minutes later, Ashkelon finally created its first chance of the second half after a good team move was finished by Sangoy, who hit his shot wide.
Tel Aviv was closer to the winner in the remaining minutes before extra time, but the side failed to translate its superior possession into a goal and the final would need an extra 30 minutes to be decided.
A minute before the first half of extra time came to an end, Croatian striker Ivan Jolic should have given Tel Aviv the title. A misunderstanding in the Ashkelon defense allowed the ball to reach Jolic, who blasted over from three meters out.
In the 113th minute Sangoy, of course, had Ashkelon's best chance to win the match, but his shot was blocked at the last moment by the Tel Aviv defense.
Both teams failed to decide the match in the remaining minutes and the winner had to be determined on penalties.