Last Saturday’s Olim Cup quarterfinal came down to a penalty shoot-out, as Ra’anana edged past Jerusalem to preserve its dream of winning the league and cup double. After playing to a 1-1 draw at full time, Ra’anana outscored Jerusalem 5-4 on penalties.
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Having already wrapped up the Olim League, Ra’anana – a team that only last year was languishing at the bottom of the table – continued its impressive season. The team has been rejuvenated in no small part due to the reemergence of top scorer Aviad Ben Meir and new talisman and captain Josh Lipman. The management trio of Guv Lebens, Moshe Freedman and Avi Wiesenberg has seen Ra’anana become the most consistent team in the league. Jerusalem, which had beaten Ra’anana in their last meeting, visited the favorite with high expectations and the hope of a solid cup run.
Both teams started nervously with little being given away. Time and space were at a premium and opportunities few and far between. The deadlock was eventually broken in the 15th minute, when Hillel Bloch’s long-range effort caught the otherwise solid hands of Jerusalem goalkeeper Daniel Boerstra off guard and put Ra’anana ahead 1-0.
Jerusalem continued to probe, with Ra’anana sitting deep and protecting its lead. Fine goalkeeping from Daniel Bergman and confident defending from Mike Isaacson kept Jerusalem at bay for the remainder of the half.
Jerusalem’s patience finally paid off in the 70th minute when a poor Ra’anana free kick was delivered clumsily and quickly intercepted by Jerusalem’s Moishe Lewis, who rounded the keeper and equalized.
Ra’anana responded well to the goal and started pushing forward. Haim Elimelech came closest, breaking in from the right, but his low shot did not have enough power on it.
Jerusalem had a chance to seal the win five minutes from time, but Ronen Goldsmith cleared a thunderous shot off the line.
With the clock approaching midnight, the tie was decided by a penalty shoot-out.
Jerusalem won the toss and went first, but missed the first penalty of the night. Despite the pressure, all other penalty-takers did their job, leaving Zeev Landsman with the final penalty. He stepped up and coolly slotted it home to send Ra’anana through to the semis.
“It’s been a great season and I am pleased it’s not yet over,” said Ra’anana comanager Wiesenberg. “Jerusalem always gives us a good run out and has a young team. We were rusty from a couple of weeks off, but I think the draw was fair. Big credit to our penalty-takers, who all did their jobs.”