State Cup heats up as top teams join fray

Hap TA sacks Klinger after being ousted by Bnei Yehuda • Mac TA, Beersheba, Beitar into last-16

 BEITAR JERUSALEM’S David Houja celebrates after scoring the second his two goals in the team’s 2-1 extra-time victory over Hapoel Afula in the State Cup round-of-32. (photo credit: DANNY MARON)
BEITAR JERUSALEM’S David Houja celebrates after scoring the second his two goals in the team’s 2-1 extra-time victory over Hapoel Afula in the State Cup round-of-32.
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)

The Israel State Cup round-of-32 got underway over the weekend as the Premier League teams joined the competition. As usual, there were a number of surprises along the way, from lower-league teams knocking out higher-level clubs to a coach making his debut to a bench boss being let go following his club’s defeat.

In one of the biggest upsets, Bnei Yehuda stunned last season’s finalist Hapoel Tel Aviv 3-1 at Bloomfield Stadium, leaving the Reds fans shaking their heads in disbelief.

Following the game, Hapoel head coach Nir Klinger was relieved of his duties.

Or Zahavi gave Yossi Abukasis’s Bnei Yehuda squad a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute when he headed home an Amit Zaneti corner kick, but Lucio found the equalizer for Tel Aviv less than 10 minutes later from inside the box.

However, Eliran Atar fed Ilay Madmon a perfect ball and the midfielder had all the time in the world to beat Reds’ keeper Ernestas Setkus to give the visitors a 2-1 advantage in the 57th minute.

 Bnei Yehuda Tel Aviv Football Club supporters (credit: FLASH90) Bnei Yehuda Tel Aviv Football Club supporters (credit: FLASH90)

To add insult to injury, Madmon sent Roie Fadida on his way to add an insurance goal to help Bnei Yehuda to the next round of play.

“We did this thanks to all of the fans that came out for the game,” Abukasis said. “We haven’t forgotten how poorly we began the season and we have to be present every single game. This one for sure gave us confidence and so many players did a great job. Hopefully, this would push us forward.”

Also at Bloomfield Stadium, Maccabi Tel Aviv dropped Hapoel Marmorek 4-0 to hand the yellow-and-blue’s new head coach Mladen Krstajic his first win on the sidelines.

The hosts grabbed a 1-0 lead via Idan Nahmias’s header in the 19th minute while Osama Khalaila doubled the advantage in the 49th minute from in close.

Acting captain Avi Rikan added another goal less than 10 minutes later and Eduardo Guerrero rounded out the scoring thanks to an Elyon Almog assist to help Mac TA move onto the next round of the competition.

“We are very happy with the first game,” Krstajic said following the win. “We looked to find ways to get by an opponent that was coming in to defend. We had a tough time during the first quarter hour, but after the second goal things improved and the pressure was off as we looked much better.”

Meanwhile, Hapoel Beersheba defeated Beitar Tel Aviv/Bat Yam 3-0 to continue its fine play this season as Rotem Hatuel scored a brace and Dor Micha also found the back of the goal in the victory.

“A win is always very important especially in the State Cup because it is like a final,” said Bersheba coach Roni Levy. “We did what we needed to in order to advance and now we move on. Beitar came in to play and they showed a lot of quality, but we did what we needed and now we move on.”

By the Carmel Mountain, Maccabi Haifa blanked Hapoel Jerusalem 2-0 to move on to the next round.

Ofri Arad scored the opener in first-half injury time when he unleashed a scorcher of a strike that settled in the left corner of the goal while Dean David cleaned up a Dolev Haziza rebound in second-half stoppage time to give the Greens the win.

“Our goal for the game was accomplished and we played well,” Haifa coach Barak Bachar said following the victory. “We missed a lot of chances in the second half, but all in all I am satisfied. This was a tough draw against another Premier League team in an early round, but I am happy that we did what we needed to.”

Elsewhere, Beitar Jerusalem needed extra time to down Hapoel Afula 2-1 as David Houja scored a brace to send Yossi Mizrachi’s squad into the next round.

“I’m happy we advanced to the next stage,” Mizrachi said. “That is what is important in cup play. I am beginning to learn the club and see the strengths and weaknesses. We didn’t play well, but in cup play, the most important thing is to get to the next round and keep moving on. We have a lot to improve to be a legitimate club.”

Also, Hapoel Hadera demolished MS Tira 6-1 as Maxim Plakushenko handed out three assists to orchestrate head coach Menachem Koretzky’s offense while Shoval Gozlan added a pair of goals to record the easy win over the Liga Alef side.

“We made this easy and I am happy that we moved on to the next round,” said a content Koretzky. “I hope that this will give the players confidence because we really need it. In a game like this we have much more to lose than to gain. We played well and scored some goals and most importantly we moved on.”

Elsewhere, Maccabi Petah Tikva defeated Hapoel Nof Hagalil 2-0 on an early first-half brace by James Adeniyi to move on to the next round.

In one of the surprises that the State Cup always brings, Hapoel Umm Al- Fahm took out Premier League squad Ashdod SC 1-0 on an 82nd-minute Timor Avitan goal, just after Kenny Saief had missed a penalty, to send the Liga Leumit team into the round-of-16.

In other action, Hapoel Haifa needed penalties to down pesky Leumit League side Hapoel Kfar Saba 2-2 (4-2).

The Carmel Reds needed a late goal by Hanan Maman to cancel out Omer Buaron’s early strike to put Kfar Saba ahead and head to spot kicks, where Elisha Levy’s side took care of business.

Maccabi Netanya halted Hapoel Petah Tikva 1-0 on a Karam Jabar 52nd-minute goal, Ironi Kiryat Shmona downed Tzeirey Taibe 2-0 on second-half goals by Guy Mizrachi and Yadin Lugassi, while Bnei Sakhnin smashed Ironi Tiberias 3-0 as Mufleh Shalata, Guy Melamed and Gaby Joury all tallied in the conquest.

Liga Alef outfit Maccabi Sha’arayim stopped Leumit League squad Hapoel Rishon Lezion 2-1 in overtime as Ilay Chen found the back of the goal in the 113th minute to advance Sha’aryim to the next round.

Also, Agudat Sport Ashdod blanked Kfar Manda 2-0, Maccabi Kabilyo Jaffa defeated Kfar Kasem 1-0 on a 92nd-minute Eran Levy goal and Maccabi Ahi Nazareth used the extra time period to dispose of Hapoel Acre 2-1 thanks to Wael Salam’s 102nd-minute strike.