Maccabi Haifa beats Betar Jerusalem

Boccoli scores in penalty shootout to advance in State Cupa.

maccabi haifa 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
maccabi haifa 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Maccabi Haifa advanced to the round of 16 of the State Cup on Wednesday night, defeating Betar Jerusalem 3-2 in a penalty shootout after the teams ended the first 120 minutes tied at 1. Gustavo Boccoli scored the penalty for Haifa at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium after David Amsalem missed for the visitors, booking Maccabi a meeting with Bnei Lod Saturday evening. Betar was in control for the first two thirds of the match and took the lead in the 25th minute thanks to Michael Zandberg's exquisite volley. Haifa seized control of the match in the second half and Shlomi Arbeitman scored his equalizer in the 63rd minute. "This is one of the happiest moments of our season," Haifa forward Yaniv Katan said after the match. "To beat Betar Jerusalem this way is a fantastic feeling." Both sides were clearly nervous at the start of the match and the capacity crowd at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium was subjected to some untidy play in the early minutes. Haifa had the first chance of the match in the 15th minute when Adoram Keisi's accurate cross was headed over the goal by striker Roberto Colautti. The visitors began pushing forward as the match progressed and in the 25th minute got their reward when Michael Zandberg expertly placed the ball in the right corner of the net. Barak Itzhaki's superb cross from the right flank was met perfectly by Zandberg, who smashed a volley beyond a helpless Nir Davidovitch. The hosts were unable to create scoring opportunities against the solid Betar defense and Haifa was fortunate to go into the interval only one goal down. In the 29th minute Kleber Schwenk squandered an excellent chance when he hit a feeble shot from the center of the box. Five minutes before halftime, Zandberg almost scored his second, hitting a powerful shot from 25 meters out that was saved by Davidovitch. Roni Levy's halftime talk must have worked wonders for Haifa and the side began the second half with the passion it lacked in the first 45 minutes. Seven minutes into the second half Colautti's quick turn almost caught Itzik Korenfein off guard, and the Jerusalem 'keeper cleared the ball with his fingertips. In the 63rd minute, Korenfein could do nothing to deny the hosts the equalizer. Eyal Meshumar crossed the ball from the right for substitute Shlomi Arbeitman, who comfortably tucked the ball in from three meters out. Haifa pushed for a second goal and six minutes later had an ideal chance to take the lead. Alon Harazi's pinpoint cross found Colautti all alone in front of goal. But the striker hit a weak header that was easily saved by Korenfein. Betar created its first chance of the half in the 81st minute when substitute Amit Ben-Shushan struck a good shot towards Davidovitch. Ben-Shushan had the last shot on goal in regulation, and the match went into a 30-minute, extra-time period. Arbeitman came close to scoring his second goal of the match just a minute into extra-time, but the shot was off target. In the 102nd minute an Arik Benado blunder almost cost his side the match, with Colautti intercepting the defender's pass and releasing a powerful shot that went just wide of Korenfein's goal. Fatigue began to set in as the minutes ticked off. With neither side managing to score in the remaining minutes, the match had to be decided in a penalty shootout. Shimon Gershon stepped up to take Betar's first penalty, but the defender hit an abysmal shot to the center of the goal that was easily caught by Davidovitch. Chilean defender Rafael Olara took the host's first penalty and, just like Gershon, struck a poor effort that was saved by Korenfein. Gal Alberman blasted his shot at the crossbar in his side's second penalty, but Katan also failed to score and the score remained tied. Milovan Mirosevic was the first to score in the penalty shootout when he hit an accurate shot that rendered Davidovitch helpless. Abas Suan tied the score, but Betar took the lead again when Tutu Ruschel scored. Keisi evened the score for Haifa and after Amsalem missed Betar's fifth penalty, Haifa had a chance to win the match. Boccoli made no mistake and blasted his shot into the goal off the crossbar, booking his side's place in the round of 16.