Israeli Arab Bnei Sakhnin Wins State Cup Final

Bnei Sakhnin on Tuesday became the first Israeli Arab team to win the State Cup Final when it crushed Hapoel Haifa 4-1 at the National Stadium in Ramat Gan in front of some 38,000 fans.

There were widespread celebrations and fireworks in the village of Sakhnin in the Galilee.

Both teams opened with offensive rosters. Hapoel Haifa was first to score just prior to the end of the first half when Shai Dahan headed a pass from Gil Vermut.

Sakhnin came back in the second half. The score was evened in the 63rd minute when Avi Danan headed a corner kick into the goal.

Sakhnin's second goal came two minutes later when Lior Assulin kicked the ball into the net from 16 meters. In the 73rd minute Darius Yetzkevich scored Sakhnins' third goal, and the fourth came from a free kick in the 88th minute.

Sakhnin owner Mazen Ghnaim said "many Jews and Arabs from the Galilee came to cheer us on. Sakhnin is a great example of coexistence."

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon offered his congratulations to the team and said he was certain Bnei Sakhnin would represent Israel honorably in European matches.

Sharon also reiterated his promise to build a soccer stadium in Sakhnin.

Palestinian Authority cabinet minister Saeb Erekat called Sakhnin owner Ghnaim and expressed his appreciation of the team's accomplishment. "This achievement also brings honor to the Palestinian people," Erekat said.

Bnei Sakhnin fans heading back north after the Ramat Gan game caused traffic jams when they stopped for a spontaneous celebration at the Fureidis junction.

Israeli Arab towns across the north were celebrating the Bnei Sakhnin victory.