Maccabi Haifa was eliminated in the quarterfinals after a 3:1 loss to Maccabi Netanya; Hapoel Beer Sheva beat Hapoel Petah Tikva 0:1

Maccabi Haifa – Maccabi Netanya 3:1
A sheep for Haifa: Rafalov (41); Scored for Netanya: Falkushchenko (70), Ben Shabat (83), Shabiru (9+90)

In a way that feels necessary, Marco Belval’s debut as Maccabi Netanya coach came precisely against his previous Israeli team, Maccabi Haifa. Both sides have been through a lot since the 2020 split; Among other things, Haifa won three consecutive championships and played in the Champions League, while Belbul coached in the Indian League and was Abraham Grant’s assistant in the Zambia national team. But Maccabi Haifa of the current season, and especially of the last two months, is very far from those peak moments. The final stamp came tonight (Wednesday), when precisely with a numerical advantage they lost a 0:1 advantage, lost to Netanya 3:1 at home, and were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the State Cup.

The Greens’ dominance didn’t translate into many chances until the 41st minute, when a successful release from Shaw in midfield started an attack that ended with Lior Rafalov. The veteran midfielder received a cross at the edge of the area, turned to his right foot and managed to unleash a kick that found its way into the net.

At the beginning of the second half, Naftali Blai apparently decided that Maccabi Netanya didn’t play hard enough. His gross and mostly unnecessary foul on Tomer Hamed drew a red card after the completion of the VAR review. In Haifa they did not know how to take advantage of their superiority for more goals or even more situations, and the lack of sharpness in the defense that characterizes them recently cost them dearly in the 70th minute. The host team had a hard time keeping a simple ball away from the vicinity of their box, and it finally reached Maksim Falkushchenko – who kicked a sharp ball outside the box and did not celebrate the goal against the former.

One could imagine that at this stage Haifa would increase gear in an attempt to avoid overtime against an opponent with a numerical disadvantage. Dean David still had time to hit over the goal from five meters. In the end, Haifa did manage to avoid overtime. Netanya defender Itai Ben Shabbat was left alone in the penalty area with a corner kick, while Haifa goalkeeper Sherif Kiuf was left on the goal line. It ended with an easy goal by Ben Shabbat, and Maccabi Haifa’s sixth game in a row without a win in all competitions.

Itamar Shabiru still managed to score the third deep in extra time, after which the game was not resumed. The Diamonds, who have won only twice since January until this game, will hope that this will be the turning point that will lead to their survival in the league. Maccabi Tel Aviv are already ready to finally bury the season of the Greens, in the meeting between the teams this coming Monday. “There are periods when nothing goes,” concluded Haifa coach Masai Dago at the end, “we lost our tempers, it doesn’t suit us.” On Monday, Haifa will have to play the football that suits them.

Hapoel Petah Tikva – Hapoel Be’er Sheva 1:0
Scored for Be’er Sheva: Lopes (44 in penalty)

Hapoel Petah Tikva is indeed getting closer to the National League, but it can be satisfied with the campaign in the State Cup. It ended tonight (Wednesday) in the quarter-finals against Hapoel Beer Sheva, with a 1:0 loss at the Moshava Stadium. Now Bnei Lam’s team can concentrate on what is left of its survival struggle in the Premier League.

Hapoel Beer Sheva players, this season.  continues to fight for a title
Hapoel Beer Sheva players, this season.  continues to fight for a title

Hapoel Beer Sheva players, this season. continues to fight for a title Photography: Nir Kidar

Hapoel Beer Sheva players, this season. continues to fight for a title Photography: Nir Kidar

The host was even better in the first minutes and even squeezed Miguel Vitor’s shot from the goal line in the eighth minute. The guest, in a semi-secondary lineup, eventually took control of things but didn’t threaten the goal too much, until the VAR awarded them a penalty due to Idan Vared’s failure on Helder Loops. The Portuguese defender took the kick himself, giving Beer Sheva the lead on the verge of going into the break.

The host didn’t threaten Beer Sheva’s advantage too much in the second half, and in the 84th minute they were even whistled for another penalty before it turned out to be different in the move that led to it. In added time, Ofir Marciano still had time to rescue Beer Sheva from an unnecessary entanglement, when he deflected Shuval Guzman’s shot from close range. Unlike its city rival who celebrated here yesterday against Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel Petah Tikva discovered once again that maybe this level of Israeli football is bigger than it. Beer Sheva, on the other hand, will continue to fight to regain the cup, the only title still available to them this season.

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