Soccer: Betar, Netanya scrape through on penalties

Netanya pushed by Umm el-Fahm; Betar survives Sakhnin scare; both win 3-1 on penalties.

betar real 224 88 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
betar real 224 88
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Betar Jerusalem and Maccabi Netanya both survived penalty shootouts on Wednesday to advance to the 10th round of the State Cup. The Premier League's top two had some worrying moments in their respective matches against Bnei Sakhnin and Hapoel Umm el-Fahm, but eventually managed to progress thanks to the heroics of their keepers in the shootout. Jerusalem controlled the first half and Michael Zandberg gave it the lead in the 26th minute. Ilya Yavruyan tied the score seven minutes into the second half, but Sakhnin ultimately paid the price for only scoring one of its four penalties. In Netanya, more than 2000 Umm el-Fahm fans traveled with their team, which led three times during the match. The fourth division club, however, was pegged back every time and Netanya keeper Liran Shtrauber saved three of the visitors' penalties to book Maccabi's place in Thursday's last sixteen draw. There was only one team on the pitch in the first half in Sakhnin, with Betar completely dominating the play. In the sixth minute Idan Tal's good shot was saved by Meir Cohen, but 20 minutes later the Sakhnin keeper could do nothing against Jerusalem's excellent team move. Romulo found Zandberg in space and the midfielder slotted the ball past Cohen. Eight minutes later Zandberg could have all but clinched his side's place in the 10th round, but Cohen was well placed to deny the Israeli international his second goal of the night. Sakhnin burst into life at the start of the second half and needed just seven minutes to tie the score. Maor Buzaglo, who terrorized Jerusalem all night, hit a shot that was only parried by keeper Tvrtko Kale and Yavruyan was on hand to head the equalizer. Each team had a golden opportunity to clinch the match before extra time, but both came up just short. In the 87th minute Buzaglo's cross was met by John Culma's header, which was well saved by Kale. In the final minute of stoppage time substitute Toto Tamuz could have put the tie to rest, but he failed to latch on to Aviram Bruchian's cross and the match went into an extra 30 minutes. Jerusalem had the better of the final minutes of the match, but the deadlock wouldn't be broken and the match had to be decided by penalties. Idan Tal gave Betar a 2-1 advantage after John Culma and Gal Alberman scored the first two penalties of the shootout and Romulo extended the lead to 3-1 after two Sakhnin misses. Buzaglo had to score Sakhnin's fourth penalty to keep the shootout alive, but he blasted his shot wide and Betar advanced. In the best match of the round, Netanya had the better of the early proceedings and Dedi Ben-Dayan squandered a superb chance in the 11th minute, missing an easy diving header. A minute before halftime Maccabi paid the price for its failure to score an early goal. Yaniv Aberjil tormented Netanya defender Klemi Saban and beat Shtrauber with a surprising shot. The hosts hit the ground running at the start of the second half and after nine minutes scored an equalizer. In the 50th minute Yehiel Tzagai hit the crossbar with his volley and four minutes later Ben-Dayan went one better and tied the score from an Itai Shechter assist. Netanya's second goal seemed to be only a question of time and in the 66th minute Shechter was only centimeters away from giving his team the lead when his shot from the edge of the box hit the post. Maccabi continued to control the possession, but in the 72nd minute another solo effort by Aberjil stunned the hosts. Mahmoud Abbas threaded the ball through to the veteran striker who rounded Shtrauber and slotted the ball in. It took Netanya almost 20 minutes to recover from the shock of conceding for a second time, but the hosts would manage to score an equalizer in the nick of time. In the 89th minute Ben-Dayan inexplicably ballooned the ball from five meters out, but a minute later he made amends for his miss and tapped in his second goal of the match, breaking Umm el-Fahm's hearts. Three minutes into extra-time Hapoel found itself in the lead once again after a Shtrauber blunder. Dudi Liani shot at goal from 30 meters out and Shtruaber made an awful mess of his catch and bundled the ball into his own net. Netanya hit back almost immediately, equalizing five minutes later through Francis Kioyo who turned in Shechter's cross. As the extra period progressed and fatigue began to set in, it became clearer and clearer that the two sides would only be separated by a penalty shootout. Hapoel keeper Majdi Haliela saved Luis Marin's penalty and Rafi Cohen gave the visitors a 1-0 lead. Yehiel Tzagai scored Netanya's second penalty and Ben-Dayan gave the hosts the lead in the shootout after Aberjil missed Umm el-Fahm's second spot kick. Shtrauber saved Hapoel's next two attempts as well and Shechter secured Maccabi's win with a cool finish.