Greens stun Mac TA to reach cup quarters

Haifa defeats yellow-and-blue 3-0 in front of new coach Fred Rutten. .

Maccabi Haifa players celebrate their second goal in last night’s 3-0 win over Maccabi Tel Aviv in the State Cup round-of-16 (photo credit: ERAN LUF)
Maccabi Haifa players celebrate their second goal in last night’s 3-0 win over Maccabi Tel Aviv in the State Cup round-of-16
(photo credit: ERAN LUF)
New Maccabi Haifa coach Fred Rutten may only officially begin his tenure next week. However, the Greens will be hoping Wednesday’s surprise 3-0 home win over Maccabi Tel Aviv in the State Cup round-of-16 in front of the Dutch coach will mark the beginning of a new, successful era at the struggling club.
Haifa entered the match as a massive underdog, sitting just seven points above the Premier League relegation zone after winning only one of its previous nine games. Maccabi Tel Aviv, on the other hand, climbed to the summit of the standings, ahead of Hapoel Beersheba on goal difference, after claiming its eighth straight win over all competitions on Sunday.
Maccabi just last week outplayed Haifa in a 3-1 road victory, but Wednesday’s encounter was a different story. After a balanced first half, Haifa took the lead through Roei Kehat in the 54th minute.
Sintiyahu Salalik doubled the advantage four minutes later and Nikita Rukavytsya clinched the tie in the 76th minute.
“They were better than us in the second half and they are a very good team in transition,” said Tel Aviv coach Jordi Cruyff. “I’m very disappointed we are out of the cup. We have reached the final in the last three years. This is a clear signal that the only way we can succeed is to work hard. This is a painful wake up call.”
Haifa became the seventh team to advance to the quarterfinals, joining Hapoel Beersheba, Hapoel Haifa, Ironi Kiryat Shmona, Hapoel Ra’anana, Hapoel Kfar Saba of the National League and Ashdod SC, which beat Maccabi Netanya 2-0 earlier Wednesday.
The final quarterfinalist will be decided on Thursday, when Beitar Jerusalem welcomes Hapoel Marmorek of the National League.
The Israeli Premier League has seen few coaches with more impressive resumes than Rutten. The 55-year-old coached at Dutch giants PSV (2009-12) and Feyenoord (2014-15), as well as at Schalke 04 (2008-09) in the German Bundesliga. His most recent job was at Al Shabab in Dubai.
Rutten’s appointment came six weeks after the departure of head coach Guy Luzon, with technical director Mo Allach determined not to make a hastened decision.
Luzon only joined Haifa last February, replacing Rene Meulensteen, who held the job for just six months.
Dutchman Rob Maas, who was named as an assistant coach the week prior to Luzon’s firing, had been in charge of the team since, but he will finally be able to return to his original job following Rutten’s appointment.
“I was really impressed with the vision of this club,” Rutten told the club’s official website. “The people who run it, the facilities and mainly the desire to take the club back to the place it should be at.
I’m already looking forward to beginning working and I will do everything not to disappoint the management and the fans.”
Club owner Jacob Shachar credited Allach for managing to bring in a coach with such an illustrious resume, while the technical director is also clearly delighted with the appointment.
“We took our time in selecting a new coach for several reasons,” said Allach without elaborating. “Rutten’s signing gives us a quality coach who is experienced and motivated. We are certain he will be able to upgrade and develop our abilities.”
Ashdod registered its first home win in nine months on Wednesday, surprising the slumping Netanya, which is winless in its past six matches over all competitions. Ashdod is three points from safety in the Premier League standings, triumphing in only one of its past 11 league games. But goals by Blessing Eleke (70) and Mauricio Cordeiro (79) ensured it can at least comfort itself in a cup run.