State Cup Soccer: Hapoel progresses to last 16 with derby win over Maccabi
Monday's defeat is a hefty blow for Maccabi, which had hoped to qualify for Europe by winning the cup, and will be a great boost for Hapoel.
By ALLON SINAI
Hapoel Tel Aviv advanced to the last 16 of the State Cup at Bloomfield Stadium on Monday night with the sweetest of victories, a 2-0 win over arch-rival Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Hapoel took a deserved lead in the 30th minute thanks to an excellent finish by Maharan Lala and, despite sitting back in the second half, limited Maccabi to very few scoring opportunities and clinched the victory with a Samuel Yeboah goal in stoppage time.
Monday's defeat is a hefty blow for Maccabi, which had hoped to qualify for Europe by winning the cup, and will be a great boost for Hapoel, which is well placed in the league and can also still win a third cup in four years.
Hapoel joins eight other Premier League teams in Wednesday's draw, with four National League (second division) sides and three Liga Artzit (third division) clubs also in the hat for the round of 16.
Both Hapoel and Maccabi entered the encounter on the back of a good string of results and both seemed eager to score the all-important opener at the start.
Shay Abutbul registered the first real chance of the match in the ninth minute with a long range effort and six minutes later Maor Buzaglo tested Hapoel 'keeper Vincent Enyeama for the first time.
The reds began to dominate the possession after the first quarter-of-an-hour and it didn't take long before they got their reward.
In the 26th minute, Walid Badier should have given Hapoel the lead when he made a complete mess of a free header five meters from goal, but four minutes later no one remembered the defender's blunder thanks to a superb Lala goal.
Hapoel surged down the field with fluidity and pace and Lala picked up Dimitar Telkiyski's cross in the center of the box and after a quick turn smashed the ball into the back of the net with his left foot.
Avi Nimni's halftime talk did Maccabi a world of good and the team seized the initiative right from the restart.
Five minutes after the interval the yellow-and-blue scored an equalizer, but Lior Jan was wrongly ruled offside and Maccabi was robbed.
Hapoel was content to defend its slender advantage and almost paid the price for its lack of courage in the 62nd minute.
Maccabi striker Scott Sealy had two superb opportunities to even the score, but Enyeama was up for the task, saving two stinging shots from close range within seconds.
Despite continuing to control the proceedings for the remainder of the half, Maccabi struggled to create scoring chances and after substitute Matan Lutati squandered a golden opportunity in the 88th minute, it was clear that Tel Aviv would be painted red once more on Monday night.
Yeboah put the icing on the cake with a goal in stoppage time, with Maccabi defender Avi Yehiel getting sent off seconds later, and Hapoel's dreams of a league and cup double remain alive and well.
var cont = `Stay Informed
As the war against Hamas unfolds, our unwavering newsroom remains committed to covering Israel's most profound crisis.
Sign up for our newsletter to get real-time news and in-depth analysis from our top reporters.