Hapoel Beer Sheva needed 120 minutes plus penalties to beat pesky Bnei Yehuda and earn the right to play Maccabi Petah Tikva in the Israel State Cup final. Yossi Abuksis’s desert side controlled the pace of play for the majority of the first half and then went up a player to the good when Bnei Yehuda was reduced to ten men in the 39th minute. Tambi Sagas was issued a red card after a hard foul on Ben Sahar that was originally called just a yellow but referee Igal Fried with the help of the Virtual Assistant Referee (VAR) changed his ruling and ejected the midfielder from the game.
With the numerical advantage, Josué Pesqueira finally helped Beer Sheva break through to take a 1-0 lead in the 68th minute when he pounded home an Elton Acolatse ball. However, just as time was running out a Loai Taha handball in the box gifted Bnei Yehuda a chance to draw even at 1-1 which they promptly did when Matija Ljujić scored a 98th minute penalty to send the match to a 30 minute extra session.
Shay Golan received his second yellow card on the 107th minute but Beer Sheva continued to fire blanks and fail to beat the Bnei Yehuda keeper Emilias Zubas who stood on his head in order to keep the ball out of his goal as the score remained as is after 120 minutes of play.
But Bnei Yehuda’s luck eventually ran out in the shootout when after the first 11 penalties all went into the back of the net, captain Dan Mori skied his chance over the goal to kick off the celebrations for Beer Sheva as they will attempt to win their first State Cup since 1997.
“We had many chances and just kept missed,” said a relieved Yossi Abuksis. “Zubas saved so many goals and we just couldn’t score. The State Cup isn’t supposed to be easy but fortunately we were able to advance to the Final via penalties and that’s what is most important. We probably could have made our lives easier but now I hope and I believe that we can win the Cup.”
This wasn’t much of a soccer game, especially after two of our players were sent off,” explained Elisha Levy. “We did everything we had to both physically and tactically; the players gave it their all. The guys are broken and we feel terrible. They did what they had to in order to get to this point, but there had to be a losing team.”