RECAP: KIRYAT SHMONA 2-1 M. HAIFA
ANDY SCHREUR - Thursday, April 18, 2013
Bryan Gerzicich and Ironi Kiryat Shmona downed Maccabi Haifa in extra time to reach the State Cup finals on May 8.
Gerzicich played 118 minutes as the Blue Lions dramatically beat their rivals from Haifa to earn the right to face Hapoel Ramat Gan, who beat upstart Hapoel Ironi Rishon Lezion earlier on Wednesday.
Haifa started out the match as many expected with lots of possession and attacking finesse. In the 23rd minute, Haifa striker Dino Ndlovu drew a penalty and beat Daniel Amos for his 10th goal in all competitions this season. Ndlovu went down in the box after a jersey pull by Dusan Matovič.
Kiryat Shmona fought back and had several chances before halftime, but were unable to beat Haifa keeper Bojan Šaranov.
The second half started off with a close call for the Blue Lions when a misplaced pass found Haifa midfield Hen Ezra alone with Amos on a breakaway chance but the goalie made a diving save to give the defending champions hope.
The breakthrough would come in the 70th minute for Gerzicich and Kiryat Shmona when substitute Ahmad Abed found himself on the end of a pinpoint cross by Shimon Abuhatzira and leveled the match.
The defending champions controlled much of the possession heading into extra time tied at one and it was in the 111th minute when Osei Mawuli scored only his third goal of the season to send the Blue Lions into the championship game. The 3000 or so Kiryat Shmona fans were rewarded for their journey south and will surely be making return reservations for the final on May 8th.
Kiryat Shmona won't have much time to celebrate as they face a tough test at third place Hapoel Tel Aviv on Friday, who they currently trail by five points in league play.