Kiryat Shmona captures Toto Cup over Hap TA

Teams trade extra-time tallies before Ben-Shimon’s boys snag trophy in 4-3 shootout.

IRONI KIRYAT SHMONA wins its second straight Toto Cup 311 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
IRONI KIRYAT SHMONA wins its second straight Toto Cup 311
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Ironi Kiryat Shmona’s dream season yielded the club’s second-ever piece of silverware on Tuesday night, with the Premier League leader defeating Hapoel Tel Aviv 4-3 in a penalty shootout, after extra time ended in a 1-1 tie, to lift its second straight Toto Cup at the Moshava Stadium in Petah Tikva.
Kiryat Shmona’s stunning start to the season has seen it open an 11-point lead at the top of the standings after 22 matches, and with the Toto Cup now safely in its trophy cabinet, it seems that the northerners are only a State Cup away from winning a remarkable and unprecedented local treble.
After the first 90 minutes in Petah Tikva ended in a goalless deadlock, Kiryat Shmona took the lead through Wiyall Marisat three minutes into extra time, but Mahmoud Abbas equalized five minutes later and the encounter would be decided by spot kicks.
After four kicks each and one miss per side, Shir Tzedek slotted in Kiryat Shmona’s fifth penalty to give it a 4-3 lead before Toto Tamuz sent his shot wide and handed the northerners just their second title in club history and NIS 1,250,000 in prize money, NIS 300,000 more than the losing finalist.
“We played well tonight and the players deserve to celebrate,” said Kiryat Shmona coach Ran Ben-Shimon, who kept his cool in typical fashion. “We will now turn our focus back to the league and continue to take one step at a time.”
Kiryat Shmona dominated the possession for the first 45 minutes, threatening to score almost every time it broke forward.
Bryan Gerzicich came close to finding the back of the net twice within a minute, with his first header going just wide of the Hapoel goal and his second from the subsequent corner being denied only by the crossbar.
Shlomi Azulai should have given Kiryat Shmona what would have been a deserved lead at the break when he found himself with plenty of space and time five meters from Apoula Edel’s goal in the 38th, only to send a meek header wide.
Tel Aviv finally showed some urgency at the start of the second half, but it was Kiryat Shmona which rattled the crossbar once more 10 minutes after the interval, with Gerzicich yet again losing his marker, only to be denied by the woodwork for the second time in the final.
Despite rarely testing ’keeper Itamar Nitzan, Toto Tamuz should have really decided the match one minute from time, but he somehow failed to put the ball into the back of the net all alone from five meters out.
After neither side managed to score in regulation, it took just eight minutes for both to do so in extra time.
Comic marking by Hapoel meant that Marisat had the goal at his mercy from five meters out and he made no mistake, volleying in David Solari’s free kick three minutes into extra time.
But Kiryat Shmona’s lead wouldn’t last long, with the northerners failing to clear Shay Abutbul’s set piece and Abbas smashing in the rebound.
Both sides had their chances to decide the encounter, but it ultimately would come down to spot kicks and Kiryat Shmona held its composure the better of the two teams to become the first club since Hapoel Petah Tikva in 1991 to win the trophy in consecutive years.