State Cup last 16 heats up with league leaders in action

Ironi Kiryat Shmona hosts the only team to have beaten it at home so far this season.

Shimon Abu Hazeira from Ironi Kiryat Shmona 370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Shimon Abu Hazeira from Ironi Kiryat Shmona 370
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Ironi Kiryat Shmona hosts the only team to have beaten it at home so far this season on Wednesday, looking to advance to the quarterfinals of the State Cup and take another significant step to realizing its dream of claiming an unprecedented local treble.
With a 17-point gap at the top of the Premier League standings and just seven matches remaining, Kiryat Shmona can already wrap up the championship this coming weekend.
The northerners lifted their second straight Toto Cup in late January and a victory over Maccabi Netanya on Wednesday will take them within three cup wins of becoming the first Israeli team to claim all three local titles in the same season.
Netanya won 3-1 at Kiryat Shmona in the second weekend of the season and enters Wednesday’s match in excellent form, winning four of its last five matches, including an impressive 3-0 victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv on Saturday.
Also Wednesday, Hapoel Tel Aviv, which drew 2-2 with Kiryat Shmona on Sunday, visits Bnei Lod, which knocked out Betar Jerusalem in the last 32, while Maccabi Haifa goes to Hapoel Kfar Saba.
The first five quarterfinal berths were decided on Tuesday, with a stunning goal by Yaniv Deri from 40 meters out helping National League side Hapoel Upper Nazareth to a 4-2 victory over Hapoel Ramat Gan.
Ramat Gan entered the only all- National League tie in the last 16 as a clear favorite, and the leader of the second division looked to be well placed after goals from Lior Asulin (39) and Ofir Hemo (45) canceled out Ahmed Diab’s 10th-minute opener.
However, Emmanuel Odiba made the most of a terrible defensive mistake to equalize five minutes into the second half before Deri gave Upper Nazareth a 3-2 lead in the 70th minute, catching goalkeeper Itay Arkin off his line with a remarkable effort from just inside Ramat Gan’s half.
Sharon Levy clinched the win in stoppage time and Upper Nazareth, which is winless in its last five league games, beat Ramat Gan, which is unbeaten in its past eight National League encounters.
There will be at least two teams from the second division in the last eight after Maccabi Herzliya beat Hapoel Beersheba 5-4 in a penalty shootout, with extra time ending in a 1-1 draw.
Omri Perl gave Herzliya the lead in the 108th minute before Ido Eksbard tied the score with a penalty two minutes later.
However, Diya Saba would miss Beersheba’s third spot kick in the shootout and Asaf Krispis secured Herzliya’s progress.
The match between Hapoel Jerusalem and Maccabi Petah Tikva also went into extra-time, but Victor Merey would book Petah Tikva’s place in the next round with a winner in the 108th minute.
Tomer Swisa’s 48th-minute goal with a free kick from 20 meters out gave Hapoel Ramat Hasharon a 1-0 victory at Betar Kfar Saba, which was the only remaining third division side in the competition.
Also Wednesday, Ashdod SC came back from a goal down to beat Maccabi Umm el- Fahem 3-1.
Tamer Tatur gave Umm el- Fahem the lead in the 37th minute, but Idan Shriki (47, 50) put Ashdod back in control and Rodgers Kola clinched the win six minutes from time.