Local Soccer: Ramat Gan stuns Haifa in day of upsets

Betar fights through to State Cup quarters with dramatic home win in penalties over Mac TA.

betar jerusalem maccabi tel aviv 311 (photo credit: roi levy)
betar jerusalem maccabi tel aviv 311
(photo credit: roi levy)
Maccabi Haifa was sensationally dumped out of the State Cup at the hands of lowly Premier League struggler Hapoel Ramat Gan in the round of 16 on Wednesday, in an upset that even overshadowed Betar Jerusalem’s dramatic penalty shootout victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv at Teddy Stadium.
The team from Givatayim came back from a goal down just four minutes before the end of regulation, and then shocked the reigning Premier League champion in the extra half hour.
“I didn’t believe we could beat Haifa,” Ramat Gan coach Yuval Naim said. “We faced a team with a huge budget and great players, but we also have a good side and we deserved to win. The boys played a heroic match.”
It was a day of surprises in the cup, with Hapoel Beersheba losing 3-1 to Ironi Ramat Sharon of the National League. It will join Hapoel Upper Nazareth, which knocked out Hapoel Petah Tikva on Tuesday, in the quarters.
Dudu Avraham gave Ramat Hasharon the lead after 25 minutes and Oren Nisim got a second for the team placed second in the National League seven minutes after half time.
Beersheba captain Maor Melikson pulled one back four minutes later, but it was far from enough to prevent his team falling to an embarrassing loss.
Rotem Shamul put the icing on the cake for Ramat Hasharon with a well-taken goal from the edge of the area four minutes from the end.
In the day’s other cup tie Ashdod SC came back from a goal down to defeat Bnei Sakhnin at home.
Ahmoud Kassoum had put the team from the North 1-0 ahead in first half injury time but two Ashdod goals in five second half minutes put the game out of reach.
Idan Sadeh scored a penalty after being fouled in the box in the 50th minute before Moshe Ohayon completed the comeback with a stinging effort.
Hapoel Ramat Gan 2,
Maccabi Haifa 1 (aet)
Haifa appeared to be easing its way into the quarterfinals at Winter Stadium after Eyal Meshumar put the Israeli Champions League representative ahead with a sublime header two minutes before half time.
But, right back the other way, Meshumar turned from hero to villain four minutes before the final whistle when he fouled Mor Golan in the box. Golan converted from the penalty spot to equalize and send the game into extra time.
Nigerian striker George Datoru slotted past hapless Maccabi goalkeeper Nir Davidovitch in the 98th minute and Naim’s team held on to produce the unlikeliest of upsets.
Haifa coach Elisha Levy was stunned by the defeat, which ended his dreams of completing a dream league and cup double.
“Everything was fine for 85 minutes,” he said. “The match was in our hands, but we made one mistake and Ramat Gan got back in the game. We lost patience in extra time and didn’t play well. This isn’t a nice moment and we will have to overcome it.”
Betar Jerusalem 1,
Maccabi Tel Aviv 1 (aet)
(Betar wins 9-8 on penalties)
A Kobi Moyal header, which whizzed past Liran Strauber’s right hand post six minutes in, was one of few chances in a frenetic opening to the game.
Tackles were flying in all over the park, and although Maccabi was the more composed side Betar created the better opportunities.
But slowly the visitors began carving their way past the home defense, and the pressure paid off eight minutes before half time when Emmanuel Mayaku’s header gave Jerusalem goalkeeper little chance and Tel Aviv was ahead.
Jerusalem began the second half with intent and scored after only two minutes, captain Bruchian heading past Strauber after receiving an Idan Tal cross while totally unmarked in the box.
However, the game petered out with fewer attacking opportunities for the remainder of the second half and extra time became an expected eventuality.
And the two teams’ defenses cancelled each other out in the extrahalf-hour, ensuring penalties would be needed to decide the encounter.
With the tension reaching fever pitch, only two players missed, andwith the penalties tied 8-8, it came down to the goalkeepers.
Betar’s Ariel Harush scored and then made a superb save on Liron Staruber to secure the victory.