The Israel State Cup Round of 32 got underway and their were plenty of surprises along the way as the competition always brings the best out of the lower division teams when they have a chance to shock one of the top league squads.
That was certainly the case when Hapoel Um El Fahem hosted Maccabi Tel Aviv at the Afula Municipal Stadium and scored three unanswered goals to win 3-2 and book their place in the next round of play.
Vladimir Ivic’s side got out to a hot start as the defending league champions scored in the 13th minute via Avi Rikan thanks to a cross by Eylon Almog for a 1-0 lead. Maccabi doubled their advantage in the 32nd minute as Rikan played facilitator for Almog as the youngster put the visitors in the drivers seat. However, Nir Berkovic’s squad pulled a goal back in the 42nd minute as Nir Sardel sent a gorgeous ball to Tadas Kijanskas as the latter headed it past a helpless Andreas Gianniotis who was starting in place of a resting Daniel Tenenbaum. The hosts kept pressing and found the equalizer when yellow-and-blue central defender Shahar Piven accidentally cleared the ball into his own goal as Um El Fahem drew even at 2-2 at the 50 minute mark. Berkovic’s team kept Maccabi backpedaling and the pressure paid off when Reef Mesika sent a stunner past Gianniotis to the far left hand corner of the goal in the 78th minute to complete the comeback and move into the Round of 16.
Hapoel Beer Sheva defeated Ashdod 4-3 in a barnburner of a contest at the port city. Hanan Manan gave the visitors a quick 2-0 lead while Oren Bitton added a goal for Barak Bachar’s squad as they went ahead 3-0 less than 25 minutes into the game. Shlomi Azulay scored to give Ashdod hope before the end of the half but Niv Zrihen brought the advantage back up to there goals, 4-1 just 50 minutes into the clash. Hamoudi Kna’an and Dean David gave the hosts hope and cut the lead to just a single marker with 20 minutes left in regulation time. In the 92nd minute Ashdod was handed a golden opportunity to draw even with a penalty but Shlomi Azulay’s spot kick was saved by Ernestas Setkus to send Beer Sheva into the next round of play.
Maccabi Haifa needed 120 minutes to dispose of pesky Sektzia Nes Ziona 3-1 at Sammy Ofer Stadium. Yuval Ashkenazi scored at the stroke of halftime but Osher Abu drew the visitors even via a Raz Stain free kick in the 70th minute. However, Dolev Haziza scored a pair of goals in the 112th via a header and in the 120th minute to get past Nes Ziona and into the next round.
Beitar Jerusalem downed Hapoel Rishon Le’Zion 5-0 at Teddy Stadium. Gaetan Varene opened the scoring with a 17th minute header and Ali Muhammed added Beitar’s second goal of the game just at the stroke of halftime. Varene completed his brace early on in the second half while Ofir Kriaf and Liran Rotman scored to cap off the win.
Hapoel Tel Aviv needed overtime to beat Hapoel Katamon 2-0 at Bloomfield Stadium. Eyad Abu Abaid found the back of the goal in the 103rd minute and Stefan Spirovski added an insurance marker four minutes later to advance to the next round.
In other State Cup games, Hapoel Raanana dropped Kiryat Malachi 4-1, Maccabi Netanya beat Tira 4-0, Bnei Yehuda got by Hapoel Hadera 2-0, Adumim Ashdod of Liat Alef snuck by Hapoel Petah Tikva 1-0, Hapoel Haifa drubbed Bnei Lod 5-1, Nof Galil surprised Hapoel Marmorek 3-1, Hapoel Kfar Kasem beat Hapoel Kfar Saba 1-0, Hapoel Afula defeated Hapoel Ashkelon 2-1, Maccabi Petah Tikva downed Kiryat Shemona 3-2, Beni Sakhnin slipped by Ramat Hasharon 3-2, Maccabi Bnei Reina beat Maccabi Sderot 2-0.