Hap TA, Mac Haifa coast; Betar pulls it out

Reds hang 7 on poor Kiryat Ata; Greens blank Kfar Saba; Azriel’s late tally lifts J’lem over Ramat Gan.

BETAR JERUSALEM 311 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Haifa cruised into the last 16 of the State Cup on Wednesday, while Betar Jerusalem needed a late goal to get the better of Hapoel Ramat Gan.
The reigning cup holder from Tel Aviv thrashed Kiryat Ata of the third division 7-0, showing the poor hosts no mercy.
Salim Toama scored the opener with a characteristic free-kick from the edge of the box in the 10th minute, with Bevan Fransman (32) and Eran Zahavi (41) clinching the win by the break.
Omri Kende (51), Victor Merey (56, 68) and substitute Arthur Atzianov (90) piled the misery on the hosts in the second half and ensured Hapoel had the ideal warm-up match for Sunday’s much-anticipated Premier League derby against Maccabi Tel Aviv.
“We made this match easy because we came ready,” said Hapoel assistant coach Yossi Abuksis, who continued to fill in for Eli Gutman, who is recuperating from Saturday’s heart attack.
“When I saw how serious the players were in the dressing room I knew we would win. There is no place for arrogance or complacency in soccer.”
Haifa easily dispatched Hapoel Kfar Saba 3-0 despite missing Yaniv Katan, Vladimir Dvalishvili and Lior Rafaelov among others.
Idan Vered gave the visitors the lead with a superb solo effort in the 18th minute and Tomer Hemed all but secured the win with a cool finish in front of goal seven minutes later.
Ali Osman wrapped up the scoring in the 68th minute and Haifa took a first step towards finally lifting the cup for the first time since 1998.
“We faced a good team, but we were ready and claimed a clear-cut victory,” Haifa coach Elisha Levy said. “After going so many years without winning the cup, we are placing extra emphasis on the competition this season.”
Betar Jerusalem was disappointing for most of its match at Hapoel Ramat Gan, but Hen Azriel ensured it still made it through to the next stage, scoring in the 83rd minute after some good build-up play from Aviram Bruchian.
“We didn’t expect it to be an easy match,” Betar coach Roni Levy said.
“Ramat Gan came with a lot of motivation and it was difficult to play against them. Cup matches are usually tough and that was the case tonight. We are still not in a state that the players can display their true ability. I hope that with some good results we will grow in confidence and the level of play will also improve.
“The most important thing at the moment is our attitude. Once we have the right attitude our performance will improve as well.”
The upset of the day was recorded by National League club Hapoel Rishon Lezion, which beat Bnei Sakhnin 3-1 at the Superland Stadium.
Ran Itzhak (13) and Gal Sapir (47) gave the hosts a promising lead and Ahmed Hatib’s (49) strike proved to be no more than a consolation after Ran Ben-Shimon secured the win a minute from time.
One more top-flight team was sent packing on Wednesday, with Ashdod SC defeating Maccabi Petah Tikva 1-0 on the road thanks to Idan Shriki’s (39) goal in the all-Premier League showdown.
Hapoel Haifa needed extra time to get the better of fourth division Maccabi Daliyat al-Karmel, winning 2-0 through goals from Gal Arel (93) and Hisham Kiwan (104).
Also Wednesday, Ironi Kiryat Shmona beat Maccabi Ahi Nazareth 1-0 on William Njovu’s 44th minute goal.