State Cup Soccer: Haifa beats Hap TA in Cup thriller

Thembinkosi Fanteni scores the crucial spot kick for the Greens, sending the visiting fans into raptures.

Tel Aviv 248.88 (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Tel Aviv 248.88
(photo credit: Asaf Kliger)
Maccabi Haifa knocked Hapoel Tel Aviv out of the State Cup on Thursday night, winning a dramatic last-16 tie 2-1 on penalties after the teams finished 1-1 in 120 minutes of play. Thembinkosi Fanteni scored the crucial spot kick for the Greens, sending the visiting fans into raptures. It had been a tense night for both sides. In the first 40 minutes of the match neither side showed nothing of the ability which has seen them claim the top two positions in the Premier League standings. Hapoel and Haifa were a pale shadow of their usual selves, with neither managing to create any real scoring opportunity, and both seemingly happy to settle for a penalty shootout right from the kick-off. Gustavo Boccoli came tantalizingly close to scoring in the 62nd minute, releasing a thunderous shot, only to be denied by a spectacular Vincent Enyeama save. Three minutes later Biram Kiyal shot just wide from 20 meters out, and a minute later Boccoli was once more centimeters from giving the visitors the lead when his header went out off the post. Haifa seemed to be in complete control, but a minute later it was Hapoel which grabbed the opener against the run of play. Eran Zehavi and Omri Canada exchanged passed on the right flank before the latter crossed an accurate ball for Maharan Lala to slot beyond Davidovich. Five minutes before the final whistle Enyeama made an unbelievable save to deny Eyal Meshumar and it seemed more and more likely Hapoel would hold on to its slender margin to advance to the last eight. However, in the 89th minute defender Elin Topuzakov tripped up substitute Thembinkosi Fanteni in the box and Yaniv Katan converted the spot kick to tie the score and send the match into extra time.