JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Veteran Israeli midfielder Yossi Benayoun bade farewell to his club Maccabi Haifa with a 1-0 win in the State Cup final over favourites and holders Maccabi Tel Aviv on Tuesday.
Haifa ended an 18-year wait for the trophy as they defended stoutly against repeated Maccabi Tel Aviv attacks after forward Chen Ezra scored the only goal of the match in the 36th minute.
Tel Aviv crushed Haifa 6-0 in their league fixture at the weekend but Tuesday’s final, which brought the 2015-16 season to a close, was a far more even contest.
It was a further disappointment for Tel Aviv, who were league champions for the previous three seasons, but surrendered their crown to Hapoel Beersheba at the weekend. They finished as runners up.
Haifa, who had a dreadful start to the league campaign but rose from the relegation zone to finish fourth, will compete along with Tel Aviv in next season’s Europa League.
Benayoun, who spent much of his career in England and had spells at Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal among others, returned to Israel with Maccabi Haifa last season.
He has yet to announce where he will be playing next season.
The final was also a farewell game for Maccabi Tel Aviv coach Peter Bosz. The Dutchman, who replaced Slavisa Jokanovic in December, is set to return to the Netherlands to join Ajax Amsterdam.
Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Toby Davis