Local Soccer: Mac Haifa, Mac TA join Betar in Toto Cup semis
Local Soccer Mac Haifa,
By ALLON SINAI
Three of Israel's big four clubs will play in the Toto Cup semifinals after Maccabi Haifa and Maccabi Tel Aviv joined Betar Jerusalem in the last four of the competition on Wednesday night.
Haifa edged Hapoel Petah Tikva 2-1 in the day's early quarterfinal at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium before Tel Aviv thumped Ashdod SC 5-0 at Bloomfield. Betar defeated Hapoel Acre 3-0 on Tuesday, and the fourth semifinalist will be determined next Wednesday when Hapoel Ra'anana hosts Bnei Yehuda.
At Haifa, the reigning Premier League champion and league-leader was far from impressive, but still booked its place in the semis at the expense of the struggling Petah Tikva.
After the first half ended in a goalless deadlock, Vladimir Dvalishvili grabbed the opener two minutes after the break. Halftime substitute Taleb Tawabcha crossed the ball from the left and the Georgian striker's clinical finish gave the hosts the lead.
It seemed likely Haifa would cruise after going in front, but 11 minutes later the visitors equalized.
Udi Hanoun made the most of a questionable penalty call, slotting in the spot kick with ease.
Petah Tikva was encouraged by its equalizer, but after nine minutes found itself trailing once more. Israel Zaguri's deflected shot from the edge of the area floated over 'keeper Austin Ejide and Haifa had no real trouble holding on to its lead for the remainder of the match.
"We didn't play well," admitted Haifa coach Elisha Levy.
"The players had the wrong attitude, but the important thing is that we advanced to the semis and that we can now focus on next week's Haifa derby. We are expecting a very difficult match against Hapoel and I hope we play better than today."
It was a totally different affair at Bloomfield where, for most of the match, it felt as if there was only one team on the pitch.
Maccabi Tel Aviv completely dominated Ashdod and could have won by a far greater margin.
The hosts created numerous chances, but wastefulness in front of goal meant that they had to wait until the 29th minute to score the opener.
Ashdod's Idan Weitzman smashed his clearance against Yuval Avidor's leg and the ball flew into the back of the net beyond a helpless Dragan Stojkic.
Tel Aviv then scored its next four goals within 27 second half minutes.
In the 59th, Idan Zion sent the ball into his own net, with Yossi Shivhon scoring the third from a tight angle 17 minutes later.
Emmanuel Mayuka rolled the ball into an empty net in the 82nd minute after a pass from Avidor, who dispossessed Israel Rosh on the edge of the box. Andrej Komac completed the scoring four minutes later.
"We are very pleased with this victory," said Maccabi coach Avi Nimni, who won his first trophy as a coach when he led his team to the Toto Cup last season.
Unsurprisingly, Ashdod coach Yossi Mizrahi was far less impressed with what he saw. " We played really badly," he said. "Our defensive play was catastrophic."
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