State cup: Maccabi Haifa escapes from Maccabi Petah Tikva

Haifa defeats Petah Tikva 4-3 on penalties and takes its place in the semifinals.

maccabi haifa 298 88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
maccabi haifa 298 88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
Maccabi Haifa finally overcame its penalty shootout jinx on Wednesday, defeating 10-man Maccabi Petah Tikva 4-3 on penalties at Kiryat Eliezer to book its place in the State Cup semifinals. Haifa, which hasn't lifted the State Cup since 1998, was knocked out in penalties in four of the last six seasons, but 'keeper Nir Davidovitch saved the day on Wednesday. Davidovitch has recently been a target of criticism and abuse from Haifa's fans, but he emerged as the supporters' hero with two penalty saves that kept his team's hopes for a Premier League, State Cup and Toto Cup "treble" alive. Neither team managed to score in a lackluster 120 minutes of playing time. Despite advancing, the greens - who have lost their last two league games - once again played poorly. Haifa joins Hapoel Tel Aviv, Bnei Yehuda and Bnei Sakhnin in the semifinal draw, which will take place at Israel Football Association headquarters in Ramat Gan next week. The semifinals are scheduled for April 26 at National Stadium. Petah Tikva, which last won the cup in 1952, controlled most of the game but could not convert its dominance into goals. The visitors were keen to show they were not intimidated at facing the reigning league champions in their home ground and showed plenty of early attacking intent. In the 18th minute, Petah Tikva defender Naor Peser's shot beat Davidovitch but was denied by the crossbar. The visitors continued to dominate in the first half with Haifa not even registering one shot on target in the entire half. In the 65th minute, substitute Kfir Edri almost scored with his first touch of the ball but defender Klemi Saban stopped the shot. Petah Tikva should have secured itself a spot in the semifinal in the 90th minute. Patric Suffo found the ball at his feet with the 'keeper out of his goal and only defender Alon Harazi standing in his way. However, Suffo squandered the chance and the match headed into an extra 30-minute period. Moments before the referee sent the match into extra time, Petah Tikva found itself with 10 men. Stanislav Dubrovin received his second yellow card for handling the ball and his team was faced with the tough task of playing extra time one man down. Haifa took advantage and was in control for most of the extra period. Five minutes into extra time, Roberto Colautti had the chance to fire the ball in, but he botched his shot from five meters out. The hosts continued to press forward, but Petah Tikva held on and sent the match to a penalty shootout. Colautti was the first to miss in the shootout, but he was immediately followed by a miss from Petah Tikva midfielder Salim Toema. Both teams continued to score until Soli Tzemach's penalty was saved by Davidovitch, sending Haifa to the last four.