Soccer Olim League Jerusalem Edges Modi’in in Tight Affair; England Scrapes by Ra’anana

England scrapes by Ra'anana for Cup semifinal berth.

Jerusalem leapfrogged over Modi’in into third place in soccer’s Olim League after a closely fought 3-2 victory in the capital last week.

On a wet night in Katamon, Jerusalem took another valuable three points in its march up the table, but it was Modi’in that started brighter. After a few half chances for both sides, Modi’in’s midfield started controlling the game, and on 15 minutes only a last-gasp clearance from Yoel Finches kept the visitors at bay. Modi’in thought they had a penalty a few minutes later as one of their players took a tumble in the box, but the infringement took place just outside, with the momentum taking the player in the box.

Modi’in upped the tempo and was rewarded on the half hour for their dominant play when Yonatan Journo finished off a great move, slotting in a cross for a well-deserved lead. But instead of going for the killer second, Modi’in seemed to take their foot off the gas and allowed Jerusalem to get back into the game.

In the 36th minute, Amit Dinowitz equalized, finishing a well-worked team goal. Both sides followed with a few good shots from distance, but Jerusalem finished the half the stronger, and two minutes before the interval Gav Cohen released Lollu Hibbert on the wing, who cut the ball into the path of Moishe Lewis, who made no mistake for 2-1. With the bit between Jerusalem’s teeth, they almost squeezed a third before the half-time whistle, only for Dinowitz and then Daniel Cohen to be denied by some great keeping by Iliyah Kovalov in the Modi’in goal.

With 53 minutes on the clock, Modi’in had a strong appeal for a penalty when the ball struck Solomon Emekle Eze’s raised hand. While everyone felt the handball took place in the box, the referee awarded a free kick on the edge of the area. With Modi’in feeling aggrieved, Jerusalem countered directly from the free kick, breaking with pace. Hibbert’s cross was dummied by Daniel Cohen, leaving Lewis with a simple finish for his second and Jerusalem’s third.

While Modi’in recovered to dominate the final 20 minutes, the team was denied by a number of great saves by Daniel Boerstra in the Jerusalem goal, and a clearance from Calev Ben Dor off the line. With Modi’in pushing to get back in the game, Lewis almost got his hat-trick on a counter attack, but put the ball wide.

The game seemed to be running away from Modi’in when they were thrown a lifeline in the 86th minute. Finches was adjudged to have brought down their attacker as he went for the by-line, and Shlomi Levi calmly slotted the penalty in for 3-2. With the referee indicating three minutes of time added on, Modi’in tried to get the equalizer, but the Jerusalem back line held strong for a hard-earned win.

Jerusalem’s joint manager Danny Newman was relieved at the final whistle. “After last week’s nine-goal demolition of Real Jerusalem it was inevitable that we would be brought back down to earth, and Modi’in’s midfield were superb. For large chunks they outplayed us. Modi’in will feel hard done by not getting the penalty for the handball, but as we saw with Howard Webb, even the so-called top refs get key decisions wrong. They are a quality side, but our boys kept plugging away and controlled the key parts of the game to give us the two-goal cushion that ultimately proved crucial against a quality opposition. It’s another three points in the bag as we push for a top three finish for yet another year.”

England tops Ra’anana in Cup quarterfinal

England FC made its way to the semifinal of the Olim Cup last Saturday after a tough 3-2 victory over Ra’anana.

With both teams out of the running for the league title, there was a huge emphasis on both sides to win at all costs and the intensity of the match itself reflected that. England FC made the better start and was rewarded for their efforts when central midfielder Amitai Backar scored a screamer from 40 yards on the half-volley into the top corner. However, their lead didn’t last long and Ra’anana’s front man, Aviad Ben Meir, managed to wriggle away from England’s defence to score two goals shortly after. Yet the teams went into the halftime break all square, after a goalmouth scramble ended with Omri Hamama scoring just before half time.

Second-half substitute for England, Motti Colman, who had come straight from the airport, was instrumental in midfield after the break and it was his cross that led to Yuval Ruppin’s winner midway through the second half. England had to battle hard to earn their victory though, and a Ra’anana onslaught followed. Yet the England defense stood firm and goal-saving tackles from the likes of manager Terry Newman, Sam Sank, Omer Peleg and Omri Elani ensured the win.

England will now face either Modi’in or Aviv in the semifinals.

Elsewhere, Aviv City beat Ashdod 2-0.