Boosted by Saturday’s league victory over Hapoel Be’ersheva, Maccabi Tel Aviv arrived at Kiryat Shmona for the Round of 16 State Cup tie. Since taking over at Kiryat Shmona, Slobodan Drapjic’s in-form side are unbeaten in the last 7 matches of which they had won six.
Facing his fellow Serbian countryman for what was nicknamed the Serbian derby, Maccabi’s coach Mladen Krstajic kept the same side that beat Be’ersheva at Bloomfield. Daniel Peretz remained in goal with Matan Baltxa and Idan Nachmias lining-up as the two central defenders in front of the 21-year-old shot stopper. Enric Saborit on the left and Andre Geraldes on the right completed Krstajic’s back-four. Dan Glazer and Eden Shamir were assigned to the engine room with Gabi Kanichowsky at the top of the midfield trio. Matan Hozez and Tal Ben Chaim also kept their places on the wings while Osama Khalaila who scored the winning goal against Be’ersheva, led the line at the stadium he scored his debut league goal for Maccabi.
The match began with both teams fighting for possession in the middle of the park, but it was the hosts who took the lead in what was the first real chance of the game. Samuel Brown whipped in a cross from the right before Morgan Ferrier sent a header that proved too powerful for Daniel Peretz to handle as Kiryat Shmona took the lead after only nine minutes. Maccabi’s response was almost instant as they were back on level terms in the 13th minute. Enric Saborit crossed into the danger zone, Matan Hozez knocked the ball down for Eden Shamir who fired home the equaliser. This was the Spaniard’s final contribution on the night as Saborit limped-off with a hamstring injury two minutes later as he was replaced by Ofir Davidzada.
Osama Khalaila came close to complete the comeback right on the half-hour-mark as he positioned himself well inside the area to bring down a Hozez cross. But the 23-year-old striker wasted the chance as he sent the ball over the crossbar.
With no further goals before the interval, Orel Grienfeld’s halftime whistle sent both teams to warm-up in the dressing rooms and prepare for the second period.
Six minutes after the restart, Shamir, came close to score his second as he found himself at the end of a Davidzada square ball. But the former Kiryat Shmona midfielder, who charged into the area sent a flick that was goal-bound only to be denied by a Dziugas Barrkus save.
Maccabi kept pressing forward as Idan Nachmias flashed a header wide of the target following a Gabi Kanichowsky free kick in the 58th minute. Three minutes later at the opposite end, Kiryat Shmona regained their lead in controversial circumstances. Roi Kehat broke into Maccabi’s penalty area and sent a chip towards the far post where Ferrier headed the ball that was hooked out by Daniel Peretz. The linesman didn’t seem impressed by the spectacular save and indicated the ball had crossed the line as Kiryat Shmona were 2-1 up. Matan Baltaxa’s claims for a penalty after being impeded inside the area on 63 were waved by Grienfeld who awarded him a yellow card instead.
Maccabi’s coach Mladen Krstajic reacted instantly with a triple substitution on 68 as Dan Glazer, Tal Ben Chaim and Matan Hozez bowed out and were replaced by Avi Rikan, Dan Biton and Brandley Kuwas. Stipe Perica replaced the industrious Khalaila in the 77th minute as Krstajic made his fifth change adding a fresh pair of legs in a bid to grab an equaliser.
In the 85th minute Krstajic was rewarded in spectacular fashion as Rikan and Perica exchanged passes on the edge of the area before the veteran midfielder blasted an unstoppable volley that rocketed into the top corner to make it 2-2. Grienfeld’s full time whistle meant that both teams will have to battle it out during 30 more minutes of extra time.
Maccabi came close on 94 as Perica was in the thick of things once again this time to release Kuwas whose attempt of a volley rolled across the face of goal. Two minutes later Kuwas and Perica swapped roles as the Curaçao winger crossed into the area before the Croat’s header was saved by Bartkus.
Maccabi began the second part of extra time with purpose and intention as Kuwas cut inside onto his left and released a shot that was caught by the Lithuanian keeper.
Kanichowsky forced another save from Barrkus on 112 as the Kiryat Shmona keeper stretched himself to save the low powerful drive. With three minutes left, Biton flashed a left foot shot that beat Bartkus but the ball crept wide of the target. In the 120th minute Kuwas sent a shot that cleared the crossbar shortly before Grienfeld blew the full time whistle and sent both teams to sudden death penalties.
Nachmias put Maccabi in front, before Nadav Nidam, on loan from maccabi to Kiryat Shmona equalised and didn’t celebrate. Daniel Peretz saved Mohamad Shaker’s spot kick to give Maccabi an advantage and Biton successfully blasted his spot kick past Bartkus. Kiryat Shmona’s veteran midfielder Adrian Rochet scored before Shamir kept his calm and found the bottom corner to give Maccabi a 3-2 lead. Itamar Shviro gave the hosts a glimpse of hope as he beat Peretz from the spot. But Perica stepped-up and sent his shot in off the post to seal the victory to the delight of Maccabi’s 1700 travelling fans.
Maccabi will discover their next State Cup opponents as the Quarter Final draw is set to take place at 14:00 on Thursday.