Betar free-fall continues with Cup loss to Lod

Yellow-and-black eliminated by second-division leaders; Hapoel Jerusalem shocks Maccabi Tel Aviv.

BETAR JERUSALEM’S Barak Moshe 390 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Just when Betar Jerusalem fans thought matters couldn’t get any worse, they did on Tuesday night.
With two straight Premier League defeats leaving it just two points above the relegation zone, Betar was hoping Tuesday’s visit to Bnei Lod in the last 32 of the State Cup would prove to be a pleasant distraction from its recent struggles.
However, Jerusalem’s crisis only deepened at Haberfeld Stadium in Rishon Lezion where Lod hosted the game, with the yellow-and-black suffering a shock cup exit after losing 4-3 in a penalty shootout, with extra time ending in a 0-0 deadlock.
Tensions were running high long before the kickoff at Rishon after impetuous Lod chairman Abu Subhi called Betar fans “disgusting racists” and spoke of his hopes of not only knocking out Jerusalem, but of also seeing the club relegated.
Betar had its chances to answer Abu Subhi on the pitch on Tuesday, but Lod, which has gone unbeaten in its last 10 second division matches and is tied with league-leader Hapoel Ramat Gan, held on thanks to a combination of good fortune and fortitude before clinching a sweet victory in a penalty shootout.
At 1-1 in the shootout, Andriy Pylyavskyi missed for Betar, but Murad Abu Anza, the leading scorer in the National League, also failed to net Lod’s subsequent kick and the score remained tied.
After both teams scored their next two kicks, Dario Fernandez stepped up to take Betar’s fifth attempt, but he shot poorly and Amar Mansour slotted in the winning penalty to send Lod fans into delirium.
“I always believed we could win,” Lod coach Sliman Azbarga said. “I kept telling my players that this isn’t the Betar of 3-4 years ago. We played the right way and deserved to progress.”
There was much speculation Betar coach Yuval Naim would be sent packing should his team lose to Lod, but he sounded convinced he would be on the sidelines when Jerusalem visits Hapoel Ramat Hasharon in league action on Saturday.
“We reached enough chances to finish the game and this is a real pity,” Naim said. “I’m not going anywhere. I will do everything so that this club will remain in the Premier League. We need to be strong. We are going through a rough period.
“For two months people have been saying I’m on my way out, but as far as I’m concerned I’m staying.”
There was another massive upset on Tuesday, with National League side Hapoel Jerusalem knocking out Maccabi Tel Aviv with a 1-0 victory after extra time at Teddy Stadium.
Mati Avraham scored the only goal of the match in the 108th minute and Maccabi’s already miserable season got a whole lot worse.
There was plenty of drama elsewhere as well on Tuesday, with four more matches going to extra time.
Hapoel Beersheba advanced to the last 16 after a nail-biting encounter at Vasermil Stadium, winning 4-1 in penalties after 120 minutes ended in a 3-3 draw.
Beersheba came back from a goal down twice in regulation, with Shalev Menashe (22) and Dino Ndlovu (45) scoring for Bnei Yehuda and Dovev Gabai (31) and Yossi Shivhon (64) equalizing for the hosts.
Ido Eksbard gave Beersheba the lead in the 105th minute, converting the rebound from his saved penalty.
However, Bnei Yehuda never gave up, with Pini Balili (114) sending the tie into penalties.
The shootout was no where near as close as the match itself, with Bnei Yehuda failing to score its first three attempts, allowing Ofir Davidzada to clinch Beersheba’s progress.
In the day’s second all-Premier League showdown, Maccabi Petah Tikva beat Bnei Sakhnin 2-0 thanks to goals from Omer Golan (50) and Mario Carevic (55).
Maccabi Netanya survived a scare on Tuesday, beating Ness Tziona 2-1 after extra time, with Ahmed Saba scoring the winning goal in the 94th minute after Ness Tziona’s Maoz Samiya (29) canceled out Nir Nahum’s 11thminute opener.
Also Tuesday, Maccabi Herzliya beat Givat Olga 1-0, Hapoel Ramat Gan defeated Kfar Kassem SC 3-2, Upper Nazareth won 2-1 at Asi Gilboa, Hapoel Kfar Saba advanced with a 4-2 victory in penalties over Betar Tel Aviv/Ramle (2-2 after extra time) and Maccabi Umm el-Fahem beat Hapoel Afula 3-2.
Six more teams will advance to the next stage on Wednesday, with Premier League leader Ironi Kiryat Shmona hoping to take another step to realizing its dream of an unprecedented treble when it visits Hapoel Haifa.
In other action: Maccabi Haifa travels south to face Maccabi Beersheba, Hapoel Tel Aviv hosts Maccabi Yavne, Hapoel Petah Tikva plays Ashdod SC, Hapoel Ramat Hashaoron comes up against Hapoel Acre and Hapoel Rishon Lezion hosts Betar Kfar Saba.