Beersheba and Petah Tikva to duel in State Cup final

Premier League stalwart needs penalties to down Bnei Yehuda • Second-tier side stuns Hapoel Tel Aviv

Hapoel Tel Aviv forward Roei Zikri is sandwiched between Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Itay Shechter (left) and Dan Glazer (right) during the teams’ 1-1 derby draw  on Monday night at the Moshava Stadium in Petah Tikva.  (photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Hapoel Tel Aviv forward Roei Zikri is sandwiched between Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Itay Shechter (left) and Dan Glazer (right) during the teams’ 1-1 derby draw on Monday night at the Moshava Stadium in Petah Tikva.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
The Israel State Cup final is set as Hapoel Beersheba will take on Maccabi Petah Tikva on July 13 for the winner-take-all match.
Beersheba defeated Bnei Yehuda on penalties in their semifinal tilt this week as Dan Mori missed his spot kick after 120 minutes of 1-1 play in order for the Southern squad to book its ticket to the title match.
Second-division Leumit League Petah Tikva stunned Hapoel Tel Aviv 2-0 in the other semifinal contest as the Blues reserved their place for a chance to take home the silverware.
Petah Tikva stymied Tel Aviv throughout the 90 minutes as a first-half goal by Guy Hadida and a second-half wonder strike by Or Inbrun helped Guy Luzon’s side take the victory.
Nir Klinger’s squad couldn’t get anything going as his side was out-hustled and out-played time and time again ending the Reds’ run in the knockout competition.
“It’s exciting to be able to play in the State Cup Final,” declared a jubilant Guy Luzon. “I’m proud to be part of a club like this with such an incredible staff and with these young players. I told the players before the game that to get to the semifinals to the finals of the cup isn’t the goal. It’s the cup or nothing.
“When I took the job to coach the team I said that I was able to reach second place with Petah Tikva and also play in Europe three times, the only thing that I am missing is winning the Israel State Cup.”
Losing coach Klinger reflected his team on falling short.
“I’ve got to congratulate Petah Tikva and we have to continue on as we have plenty still to play for in the league. In my worst nightmares I never thought we would lose, but that’s sports. Players are human beings too and we have to move on.”
In the second semifinal clash, Beersheba needed 120 minutes plus penalties to beat pesky Bnei Yehuda. Yossi Abukasis’s desert side controlled the pace of play for the majority of the first half and then went up a player when Bnei Yehuda was reduced to 10 men in the 39th minute.
Tambi Sagas was issued a red card after a hard foul on Ben Sahar that was originally called just a yellow, but referee Igal Fried with the help of the Virtual Assistant Referee (VAR) changed his ruling and ejected the midfielder from the game.
With the numerical advantage, Josué Pesqueira finally helped Beersheba break through to take a 1-0 lead in the 68th minute when he pounded home an Elton Acolatse ball. However, just as time was running out a Loai Taha handball in the box gifted Bnei Yehuda a chance to draw even, which it promptly did when Matija Ljujic scored a 98th-minute penalty to send the match to a 30-minute extra session.
Shay Golan received his second yellow card on the 107th minute, but Beersheba continued to fire blanks and failed to beat the Bnei Yehuda ’keeper Emilias Zubas, who stood on his head in order to keep the ball out of his goal as the score remained 1-1 after 120 minutes.
But Bnei Yehuda’s luck eventually ran out in the shootout when after the first 11 penalties all went into the back of the net, captain Dan Mori skied his chance over the goal to kick off the celebrations for Beersheba as it will attempt to win its first State Cup since 1997.
“We had many chances and just kept missed,” said a relieved Abukasis. “Zubas saved so many goals and we just couldn’t score. The State Cup isn’t supposed to be easy, but fortunately we were able to advance to the final via penalties and that’s what is most important. We probably could have made our lives easier, but now I believe we can win.”
Bnei Yehuda coach Elisha Levy tried to console his players after the defeat.
“This wasn’t much of a soccer game, especially after two of our players were sent off,” said Levy. “We did everything we had to both physically and tactically; the players gave it their all. The guys are broken and we feel terrible. They did what they had to in order to get to this point, but there had to be a losing team.”