Goals by Aaron Schoenfeld and Dor Micha were enough to send Maccabi Tel Aviv through to the Finals in Jerusalem where they will face Bnei Yehuda on May 25th. Hen Ezra scored in the 90th minute to cut the lead to 2:1 but the Yellow & Blue wrapped up the win.
Watch the highlights: Semi Final, Maccabi defeats Beitar 2:1
Lito Vidigal’s Starting XI had a number of twists for the State Cup Semifinal but Predrag Rajikovic opened in goal with a defense of Eli Dasa, Egor Filipenka, Tal Ben Haim and Captain Sheran Yeini. Eyal Golasa made his return to the squad after injury while Ruben Micael and Yossi Benayoun filled out the midfield. Winger Tal Ben Chaim, Barak Itzhaki and Aaron Schoenfeld provided the attack.
Available on the bench were keeper Daniel Lifshitz, Ramon Roma, Gal Alberman, Vidar Kjartansson, Dor Micha, Avi Rikan, Marcelo dos Santos.
The match kicked off with electricity in the air with both groups of fans were active from the get go was Maccabi penetrated the Beitar defense early on to no avail. Antoine Conte had Beitar’s first real chance in the 14th minute but Rajikovic smothered the ball by the right post. Maccabi went right back the other way, however, Itzhaki’s long range attempt scooted by the left post to keep the contest goalless.
However, Schoenfeld would change that in a flash heading home a brilliant 18th minute cross by Yeini off of the left wing to give the Yellow & Blue a 1:0 lead. The Israeli-American leaped into the air to head in his first goal for Maccabi to the delight of the fans who chanted his name! Ten minutes later Rajikovic was called upon to make a superb save blocking Dan Einbinder’s close range attempt as things began to heat up on the pitch.
Ben Chaim cut into the box off the left side in the 45th minute but his great chance was pushed away to safety by Kleyman as the sides headed into the break with Maccabi maintaining a 1:0 lead.
Dor Micha came in for an injured Itzhaki to begin the second half for Maccabi as Beitar had the first chance when Hen Ezra launched a missile from 15 meters out, but Rajikovic was up to the task parrying the ball over the bar. In the 55th minute Ben Chaim flew into the box on the left side but came up empty as Maccabi looked for an insurance marker.
And an insurance marker they would find in the 60th minute via Dor Micha as number 15 took a pass from Dasa and put it behind Kleyman for the 2:0 Yellow & Blue advantage. Five minutes later Micha almost scored his second as Schoenfeld sent him a spectacular pass in the box off of the left wing but the midfielder couldn’t get a good shot away.
Schoenfeld picked up a yellow card in the 69th minute while Yeini received one of his own three minutes later and Gal Alberman replaced Golasa on the 78th minute. Just one minute later, Benayoun gave Ben Chaim a beauty of a pass but his effort went out. Conte looked to pull one back for Beitar in the 81st minute but his chance went flying over the goal.
Marcelo dos Santos came in for goal scorer Schoenfeld in the 86th minute as Maccabi looked to wrap up the match, however, Beitar pulled a goal back in the 90th minute thanks to Hen Ezra cutting the score to 2:1 in favor of the Yellow & Blue. And that’s how it would end sending Maccabi Tel Aviv to the Israel State Cup Final in Jerusalem where they will face Bnei Yehuda on May 25th.