Even at Teddy, Beitar no match for Mac Haifa

Jerusalem’s swoon continues, eliminated from State Cup as Greens win 3-0 to coast into semis.

Taleb Tawatha 370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Taleb Tawatha 370
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Haifa took a significant step towards ending its 15-year State Cup drought on Wednesday night, easily beating Beitar Jerusalem 3-0 at Teddy Stadium to advance to the semifinals.
Haifa, which last lifted the cup in 1998, completely dominated the sorry hosts and built on the excellent form which has seen it take a stranglehold on the runners-up position in the Premier League.
The Greens joined Ironi Kiryat Shmona, Hapoel Ramat Gan and Hapoel Rishon Lezion of the National League in the semifinals and are a clear favorite to end their cup curse following Wednesday’s win.
After a 30-minute delay to the beginning of the match due to heavy traffic jams in the capital, it was Beitar which got off to the better start, playing with the urgency you would expect from a team with its season on the line.
However, a superb team move in the 25th minute was capped by an accurate Taleb Tawatha finish and Haifa never looked back.
The visitors effectively clinched the victory nine minutes into the second half, with Weeam Amasha scoring from the penalty spot after Eyal Golasa was brought down in the box by a reckless Kobi Moyal challenge. Substitute Dino Ndlovu poured salt on Beitar’s wounds with a third goal in the 72nd minute and Ofir Kriaf capped Jerusalem’s miserable night by being sent off five minutes from time after an irresponsible lunge at Haifa’s South African striker.
Beitar hosts Hapoel Ramat Gan on Sunday, entering the showdown eight points from its opponent and the relegation zone. However, after picking up just two points from its past seven league matches and being humbled by Haifa in the cup, Jerusalem could well find itself dragged into the battle against relegation should it not register a significant improvement soon.
”Anything can happen in this league,” said Beitar coach Eli Cohen.
“We need to change this momentum and make sure we end the season respectably.”
Haifa, on the other hand, can hardly stop winning.
The Greens are close to locking up second place in the league and European qualification after claiming 12 of their past 15 matches and it is hard to see any of the three other semifinalists denying them the cup.
“This was a tough match but it went according to plan for us,” said Haifa coach Arik Benado, whose team trails Maccabi Tel Aviv by 10 points in the league standings. “We are looking good and we just need to continue this way.”
Earlier Wednesday, Maccabi Tel Aviv Sports Director Jordi Cruyff did his best to stress that the yellow-and-blue has yet to clinch the championship.
“Nothing is finished until it is finished,” he said in a rare press conference.
“We have a good advantage but we need to continue to fight until it is really done. It’s in our hands. We depend on ourselves at the moment.
But if you think it is over that is when the nightmare starts.”
Cruyff emphasized that coach Oscar Garcia is under contract for next season, but could not guarantee that the Spaniard would remain at the helm for another year.
“Coaches these days depend mainly on themselves, because if you are successful than clubs will come knocking on your door,” said Cruyff. “I think he is very happy here at the moment. I hope he stays. But I think it will really depend on what teams come calling.”