Aviv City regained the Olim Cup on Saturday night, coming from behind for an exhilarating 3-1 win over Jerusalem at the Nes Tziona training ground. England beat Bambi 2-1 in the third-place playoff, held before the final.
England claimed another piece of silverware, but as they left the field and the finalists started warming up, the tension and disappointment were palpable. In the semifinals earlier in the week, debutant Josh King of Aviv City scored a hat-trick and setup another goal to put much-fancied England out of the competition.
It was hard to not focus on King leading up to the final. The 1.93 meter (6’ 4”) striker, who has played and scored at the highest level in Israeli soccer, was certainly the man to watch and Jerusalem’s manager Danny Newman was going to have to rally his troops and come up with a good strategy if Jerusalem was to retain the cup.
Aviv manager Uri Schneider looked very confident ahead of the encounter. With Peter Emola and King up front, he knew he had perhaps the best striking partnership at this level, and if he could get them the ball, he was almost certain of victory.
Jerusalem started the game brightly with several attacks, and their young full-back Danny Sigal was in the form of his life as he bullied King out of every encounter. The rare saves that Daniel Boerstra had to make in the Jerusalem goal, combined with the experience of Dan Kosky, Yoel Finches and Eli Warner, appeared to be edging the game for Jerusalem.
Just before half-time, Jerusalem’s Akiva Zniemer scored an excellent free kick. Of Jerusalem’s younger attacking players, Zniemer stood out, as Amit, Daniel Cohen and Moishe Lewis were failing to make an impact on the game. Zac Lewis, arguably the most gifted Jerusalem player, was excellent on the ball but not involved enough.
Even though Aviv had enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, Jerusalem went in 1-0 ahead at half time. But Jerusalem now had to deal with injuries to Finches and Solomon, and Aviv, known to be a second-half team, came out and destroyed the upstarts.
Aviv’s central midfield pairing of Yaya and Jonathan had been excellent earlier last week in their 5-3 semifinal win over England, and they were the factor that swung the game in their team’s favor with constant tackles, headers and quick passes.
Aviv equalized on the 61st minute with a great shot from Jonathan, before sealing the victory with two close-range efforts through man-of-the-moment King in the 67th minute and Emola in the 81st minute. Aviv’s defenders breezed through the half with only Zneimer to deal with, while Rob Bradman in the Aviv goal dealt expertly with any real Jerusalem threats.
Full-time and the champagne bottles, medals and trophy were handed to Aviv’s manager Schneider. Yaya received the man-of-the-match award and Jerusalem, outclassed in the second half, had a long drive home.
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