Beersheba bests Petah Tikva in tight final

Southern Reds crowned State Cup champions as Josue leads the way to convincing 2-0 triumph

HAPOEL BEERSHEBA players celebrate with the State Cup trophy on the pitch at Bloomfield Stadium on Monday night after beating Maccabi Petah Tikva 2-0 in the final (photo credit: DANNY MARON)
HAPOEL BEERSHEBA players celebrate with the State Cup trophy on the pitch at Bloomfield Stadium on Monday night after beating Maccabi Petah Tikva 2-0 in the final
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Hapoel Beersheba won its first Israel State Cup since 1997 as it defeated Maccabi Petah Tikva 2-0 at Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv late Monday night.
President Reuven Rivlin was in attendance for the proceedings along with Minister of Culture and Sport Hili Tropper, who helped hand out the championship medals following the game.
Attacking midfielder Josue was the man of the match as the Portuguese sensation assisted on Ben Sahar’s opening goal and then scored a stunning insurance marker to give head coach Yossi Abukasis his second State Cup title in a row.
Abukasis had won the trophy last season while in charge of Bnei Yehuda and became only the third coach to win back-to-back State Cups with two different teams, with the first being Shlomo Sharf when he turned the feat with Kfar Saba and Bnei Yehuda in 1980-81.
The last time Beersheba featured in the final was 2015, when it was stomped by Maccabi Tel Aviv 6-2 at Sammy Ofer Stadium in Haifa.
“This was fabulous” said an exuberant Abukasis. “To win the State Cup two straight seasons is something very special. We were able to navigate through some very tough opponents and all of our games were played on the road. That makes this title that much more sweeter. We have been preparing for this game throughout the championship playoffs and we came into money time in perfect shape.”
The star of the show, Josue, also looked back on the victory.
“The entire team played a part in winning the State Cup. This was a difficult and challenging season and one that was very unusual due to the [coronavirus-induced] break. But everyone who is part of this club deserves this title. I love playing here and my teammates know exactly what I am going to do on the field. We’re going to enjoy this.”
Guy Luzon, the man in charge of Maccabi Petah Tikva, had looked to add another award this campaign after guiding his squad from the second division to the Premier League and has his sights set on becoming the first team since Ramat Gan in 2003 to win the Cup from a lower league.
The first time Petah Tikva won the trophy was in 1935 before the founding of the state while the last time it advanced to the final was in 2001, when it fell 3-0 to Maccabi Tel Aviv.
“I believe that the experience and quality of Beersheba was what helped them to a tremendous second half and that was what made the difference,” said a disappointed Luzon. “The goal that they scored at the start of the second half gave them a lot of energy and mixed us up a bit. They deserved the cup and were better than us.”
Each team disposed of quality sides on their respective paths to the final as Beersheba defeated Ashdod, Maccabi Netanya, Maccabi Haifa and Bnei Yehuda. Petah Tikva beat Hapoel Ramat Gan, Ironi Kiryat Shmona, Nof Galil, Beitar Jerusalem and Hapoel Tel Aviv to reach the title game.
Monday’s contest began heating up early as each side had a chance in the opening minutes. Arad Bar’s 28-meter opportunity for Petah Tikva went by the goal while for Beersheba’s attempt, Josue’s strike from just outside of the box was taken care of by ’keeper Dor Hevron.
Josue was at the center of attention again in the 12th minute when his corner kick went directly to Marwan Kabha, whose header just missed the target as the game remained goalless.
Petah Tikva almost got on the board when Or Inbrum’s 35th-minute scorcher just grazed the bar while Josue once again had a chance to score on a gorgeous free kick, but the ball just whet wide of the goal as the half came to an end all knotted up at 0-0.
However, the game didn’t stay scoreless for long as Josue finally helped put Beersheba ahead, with the 29-year-old Portuguese midfielder sending winger Ben Sahar a fantastic through-ball that the latter easily slipped by Hevron for a 1-0 lead in the 48th minute.
The ever-present Josue then scored a goal of his own when he delightfully struck the ball from long distance that beat Hevron to double the advantage.
Sahar had a chance to bag a brace off a header from a corner kick, but his effort missed the target in the 67th minute while an Oren Bitton goal was called off in injury time as Beersheba wrapped up a 2-0 win to take home the 2020 Israel State Cup.