Maccabi Petah Tikva stunned Hapoel Tel Aviv 2-0 to advance to the Israel State Cup Final where they will meet the winner of the second semifinal between Hapoel Beer Sheva and Bnei Yehuda which will be played on Wednesday night. Head Coach Guy Luzon’s squad stymied the Reds throughout the 90 minutes as a first half goal by Guy Hadida and a second half wonder strike by Or Inbrun helped Petah Tikva book their ticket to the title match. Nir Klinger’s squad couldn’t get anything going as his side were consistently out hustled and out played time and time again ending Hapoel’s run in the knock out competition.
Second division Leumit League outfit Petah Tikva got out of the gate quickly and jumped all over Hapoel as the Blue’s scored via a Guy Hadida penalty in the 5th minute after Liel Abada was yanked down in the box by Raz Shlomo to set up the spot kick. Just before the break the Reds were almost awarded a penalty of their own when Tomer Levi clipped Shai Eisen as he tried to clear the ball in the area. But referee David Fuchsman ruled that Hapoel striker Michael Olaha had committed a foul just prior to Levi’s miscue thereby canceling out any chance of Kilnger’s crew drawing even in the first half.
Luzon’s side doubled their lead in the 50th minute when Emmanuel Boateng coughed up the ball to Or Inbrun when turned and fired a scorcher right past a helpless Arik Yanko to give Petah Tikva a 2-0 advantage. Hapoel looked to have cut the lead in the 77th minute when Omri Altman’s free kick from 35 minutes found its way into the back of the goal but it was called off when it was ruled that the ball glanced off of Omer Damari’s arm effectively ending the Reds run in the tournament.
“It’s exciting to be able to play in the State Cup Final,” declared a jubilant Guy Luzon. “I’m proud to be part of a club like this with such an incredible staff and with these young players. I told the players before the game that to get to the semifinals to the finals of the Cup isn’t the goal. It’s the Cup or nothing.
“When I took the job to coach the team I said that I was able to reach second place with Petah Tikva and also play in Europe three times, the only thing that I am missing is winning the Israel State Cup.”
The losing coach Nir Klinger reflected on falling short, “I’ve got to congratulate Petah Tikva and we have to continue on as we have plenty still to play for in the league. In my worst nightmares I never thought we would lose, but that’s sports. Players are human beings too and we have to move on.”