Maccabi Tel Aviv smashed Bnei Sakhnin 5-1 as Yonatan Cohen scored a brace in the win that saw the hosts reduced to ten men for the entire second half in the Toto Cup semifinals. Despite rumors that keeper Daniel Peretz will be sold to Bayern Munich, the shot stopper started in goal for Maccabi. With the victory, the yellow-and-blue will face Maccabi Haifa in the final slated for January 2024 at Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem.
Dor Peretz opened the scoring from 16 meters out to give Robbie Keane’s squad a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute. However, Sahar Tagi sent a screamer of a goal into the top left hand corner of the net after Baseel Khoury had been sent off leaving Slobodan Drapic’s team with just ten men to even up the game at 1-1. Yonatan Cohen immediately put Maccabi back in front with a volley in the box for a 2-1 advantage while Dor Turgeman added an insurance marker soon thereafter while Cohen scored his second of the game and Dan Bitton added a late strike to polish off the big win.
“This was good and there are no easy games,” Keane said. “But to score five goals away from home in the semifinal that’s great and it was a very special performance. As for Daniel Peretz, if he said goodbye last game then why is he still here? He is a Maccabi Tel Aviv player.”
“Sometimes there are games you want to end before they even begin,” Drapic said. “We have been trying to get the team into shape and the Toto Cup has been a chance to see some the players in action but there is still an issue with the budget committee and ultimately this was not the greatest preparation we could have had for the season opener against Hapoel Tel Aviv.”
Maccabi Netanya pounded Hapoel Beer Sheva 4-1 as Eitan Azulay scored a brace to help the diamond city squad to 7th place. Azulay pounced all over a rebound off the post to give the hosts a 1-0 lead but Antonio Sefer’s left footed attempt drew the southern reds even in the 22nd minute. However, just before the break Azulay added his second marker of the game as he beat a helpless Beer Sheva keeper and Stanislav Bilenkyi added a penalty to snatch a 3-1 lead after the first half. Bar Cohen then scored in the 59th minute to out the game away as Ron Kozuk’s team took the win.
“We have a good team,” Kozuk said. “We are the cup holders but this was really a time to prepare for the upcoming campaign and sometimes coaches take what occurs in this competition going forward. We are working hard getting ready for the start of the league.”
“I didn’t expect that this is what was going to occur in the game bandit wasn’t a good result,” Beer Sheva coach Elyaniv Barda began. “Of course we didn’t want to end the Toto Cup like this but it was important that some young players received the chance to feature which is what this competition is all about.”