Gutman’s Reds continue to roll with 2-0 triumph; Ramat Hasharon shocks Mac PT.
By ALLON SINAI
Hapoel Tel Aviv’s dream season just keeps getting better.Tel Aviv claimed a 2-0 victory over Betar Jerusalem at Bloomfield Stadium on Tuesday night, advancing to the semifinals of the State Cup with a convincing performance.Two second-half goals by Dedi Ben-Dayan (56) and Gili Vermut (73) secured Hapoel’s place in the last four and denied Betar the chance to become the first team in 71 years to claim three consecutive cups.Chances were at a premium for much of Tuesday’s encounter, but Tel Aviv was clearly superior to Jerusalem for the vast majority of the match, and after it took the lead there was little doubt it would go on to clinch the win.Also Tuesday, Ironi Ramat Hasharon ensured there would be at least one National League club in the semis, stunning Premier League outfit Maccabi Petah Tikva 2-1.The semifinal lineup will be completed on Wednesday when Ashdod SC hosts second-division Hapoel Upper Nazareth and Bnei Yehuda visits Hapoel Ramat Gan.Hapoel Tel Aviv 2, Betar Jerusalem 0 AdvertisementTuesday’s encounter was the fourth time Hapoel and Jerusalem have met in the cup in the past 11 years, with all three previous matches being played in the final.The match at Bloomfield may have been only in the quarterfinal stage, but it had the feel of a final from the start, with both teams confident they would go on to lift the cup if they triumphed.The match got off to a fast start, but both teams were wary of committing too many players forward and there were few clear-cut chances.The teams became less and less tentative as the match progressed and it was Hapoel which reached the first scoring opportunity of the night in the 19th minute. After a neat move down the left flank, Bojan Vrucina released a tricky shot, but Betar ’keeper Ariel Harush was well-placed to save the attempt.Jerusalem was also beginning to come out of its shell and Barak Itzhaki had a couple of chances within one minute, but both were off target.Four minutes before the interval, Itai Shecher finally found some space in the box, but he didn’t release his shot quickly enough and the Betar faithful breathed a sigh of relief.In the final seconds of the first half Harush did well to deny Eran Zehavi’s header and the visitors were happy to take a goalless deadlock into the break.The second half began much like the first, but a superb team move by Hapoel would give it the breakthrough after 56 minutes.Shechter found Zehavi with a delightful back-heel and after he located Dedi Ben-Dayan in the box the left-back smashed Tel Aviv into the lead with an unstoppable shot.With its back against the wall, Betar had little choice but to send more players forward in search of an equalizer and it very nearly got the goal is so desired in the 62nd minute.Toto Tamuz only had Vincent Enyeama to beat, but the Nigerian ’keeper was more than up to the task and he cleared the danger.Eleven-minutes later, Tel Aviv clinched the win.Former Hapoel defender Shimon Gershon completely missed the ball and Gili Vermut coolly rolled it past Harush to book Tel Aviv’s place in the semifinals and secure a sweet victory.Ironi Ramat Hasharon 2, Maccabi Petah Tikva 1Petah Tikva got off to the better start, with Omer Damari’s header in the 10th minute only being denied by Ram Setti’s goal-line clearance.Ramat Hasharon rarely ventured forward, but it would make its chances count, scoring the opener with its first real opportunity of the afternoon.Dudu Avraham crossed the corner and Moshe Ben-Lulu was well-placed at the near post to head the hosts into the lead.Ramat Hasharon’s lead would only last eight minutes.Petah Tikva striker Tal Ben-Haim was at the right place at the right time and tucked in the equalizer from the goal-line.The visitors continued to dominate the possession in the remainder of the first half and at the start of the second, but Ramat Hasharon scored the winner in the 68th minute.Avraham sent an accurate header past ’keeper Dragoslav Jevric and the hosts held on for a famous victory.“It is exciting to be the Cinderella of the cup,” Ramat Hasharon coachEran Kulik said. “We played well and we deserved to progress.”Petah Tikva coach Freddy David was heartbroken. “This is a bitterlydisappointing defeat,” he said. “We had a great chance to reach thesemifinals, but we couldn’t do it. We simply failed.”
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