State Cup Soccer: Betar J'lem breezes into cup quarters

Schum's team heading for historic double; Betar/Shimshon shocks Hapoel Petah Tikva.

beitar zandberg 88 (photo credit: )
beitar zandberg 88
(photo credit: )
Betar Jerusalem's double dream moved one step closer to realization after its 3-0 win at Ahi Nazareth in the last 16 of the State Cup on Tuesday night. The reigning champion, which leads the Premier League by 13 points, was far from its best in Nazareth, but nevertheless had no trouble getting the better of the weak locals. The hosts held on for the first 45 minutes, but three second half goals by Michael Zandberg, Aviram Bruchian and Gal Alberman gave Jerusalem one of its easiest wins of the season and a place in the quarterfinals. Also Tuesday, third division Betar/Shimshon Tel Aviv continued its Cinderella run, defeating National League leader Hapoel Petah Tikva 2-0. And in a cup classic in Rishon Lezion, the local Ironi came back from 4-2 down against Hapoel Kfar Saba to force extra-time despite playing with 10 men. A 117th minute goal by Maor Melikson, however, broke the locals' hearts and ensured the Premier League club avoided a shock exit at the hands of the National League team. Bnei Yehuda also progressed to the quarterfinals on Tuesday, defeating Ironi Ramat Hasharon 1-0 thanks to Asi Baldut's 35th minute penalty. In the Ramat Gan derby, Hakoah Amidar beat Hapoel 5-3 on penalties after a goalless 120 minutes. The three remaining last 16 ties will be played on Wednesday. Maccabi Netanya hosts Maccabi Haifa in the only all Premier League match of the last 16 and Hapoel Tel Aviv will try and take another step towards becoming the first team in 69 years to win three consecutive cups with a win at Hapoel Beer Sheba. Also Wednesday, Ironi Kiryat Shomna plays Ironi Kiryat Ata. In Nazareth, Betar controlled the early exchanges, but failed to register a good shot on goal. Jerusalem hit the ground running at the start of the second half and took the lead almost immediately. Nazareth turned over the ball on the edge of the box in the 48th minute and Amit Ben-Shushan fed Zandberg who easily shot past the keeper. The visitors had numerous chances to doubles their lead in the next few minutes, but was wasteful in front of goal time and again. Betar's poor finishing, however, was of no consequence, with Bruchian scoring a superb goal in the 75th minute and Alberman wrapping up the win with a super strike in stoppage time. "The players annoyed me in the first half, but I'm happy we managed to eventually score three goals and advance, which is the most important thing in the cup," Betar coach Itzhak Schum said. Betar/Shimshon Tel Aviv 2, Hapoel Petah Tikva 0 Hapoel entered the match as a clear favorite, but Betar/Shimshon recorded a well earned victory against a superior opponent for a second straight round. Many expected Petah Tikva to bring Betar/Shimshon back to earth after its amazing 1-0 victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv in the last 32. The hosts, however, outplayed the second division leader on Tuesday and will continue their unlikely cup run in the quarterfinals. Petah Tikva got off to the brighter start, but in the 30th minute an excellent break forward gave Tel Aviv the lead against the run of play. Avi Tadesa was on the end of the good team move and coolly slotted the ball past keeper Avi Peretz. Betar/Shimshon took control of the game after going ahead and five minutes after the interval all but booked its place in the last eight. Veteran striker Ofer Shitrit picked up the ball on the edge of Petah Tikva's box and released a sensational strike that gave Peretz no chance. "We didn't steal the win. We played much better than Petah Tikva and we deserved to advance," Shitrit said after the match. Ironi Rishon Lezion 4, Hapoel Kfar Saba 5 Kfar Saba took the lead in the 16th minute after keeper Avi Ivgi turned Guillermo Israelevitch's shot into his own goal. Twenty minutes later the hosts equalized thanks to Shlomi Edri's quick reaction to keeper Ohad Levita's save. Rishon's hopes of recording a shock win were handed a huge blow four minutes later when Dudu Nahum picked up two quick yellow cards and was given his marching orders. On the brink of halftime, however, the hosts took a surprise lead after Levita couldn't handle Ofir Hemo's long range effort. Ten minutes after the interval the visitors' one man advantage finally paid off. Bill Gonzalez was left unmarked in the Rishon box and headed in the equalizer. Two minutes later Kfar Saba was back in front, with Melikson beating Ivgi with a clever shot. Hapoel seemed to have all but clinched its place in the last eight in the 73rd minute after Gonzalez scored his second goal of the match. Rishon, however, sent everybody forward in the final 10 minutes of the encounter and Shlomi Edri scored his second and third goals of the match in the 82nd and 90th minutes to tie the score in the nick of time. Edri's hat-trick, however, would go to waste as Melikson scored the winner in the 117th minute to secure Kfar Saba's place in the quarterfinal draw.