League-leader Mac TA gunning for 5th straight
Tel Aviv can extend its lead over Maccabi Haifa to 11 points with a victory over Hapoel Ramat Hasharon at Bloomfield.
Rade Pric Photo: Adi Avishai
The incredible comeback win over Bnei Yehuda will be talked about for years to
come, but Maccabi Tel Aviv players will look to put it in the past as they turn
their focus to Saturday’s Premier League encounter against Hapoel Ramat Hasharon
at Bloomfield Stadium.
Maccabi looked to be heading to a surprise defeat
to Bnei Yehuda on Monday when Oz Raly gave the hosts a 2-1 lead in the 90th
However, striker Rade Prica equalized with a powerful volley
three minutes later and Moshe Lugassi scored a stunning winner with the final
kick of the match in the ninth minute of stoppage time to clinch an
Tel Aviv reestablished an eight-point gap over Maccabi
Haifa at the top of the standings with the win and can extend its lead to 11
points, at least until Haifa hosts Beitar Jerusalem on Sunday, with a fifth
straight victory on Saturday.
Ramat Hasharon has been the surprise of the
season and is vying for a place in the championship playoffs, currently sitting
in sixth place with a two-point advantage over Jerusalem.
The league will
be split into two sections after each team completes two rounds of play with
three more matches. The top six teams will play each other twice more (10
matches in total) to decide the champion, while the bottom eight sides will play
each other once more to determine the relegation battle.
will be desperate not to leave Bloomfield empty handed, but it will have to
record one of the upsets of the season to do so, with Maccabi winning its past
six home matches by a combined goal difference of 25-3.
Eliran Atar and
Rade Prica are set to receive another opportunity to continue their prolific
partnership up front for Maccabi, with the two combining for five goals in the
past two matches.
Atar didn’t find the back of the net against Bnei
Yehuda, but he scored twice in the 4-0 derby drubbing of Hapoel Tel Aviv to take
his tally for the season to 20 goals, while Prica has been an instant hit since
replacing Robert Earnshaw in the January transfer window, scoring three goals in
his two starts for the club.
“It has been very easy to come into this
team. Everything went really smoothly,” said the Swede, who is the only player
to have won league championships in the three Scandinavian countries – Sweden,
Denmark and Norway.
In the meantime, on the other side of town, Freddy
David is hoping to breathe new life into a floundering Hapoel Tel Aviv
Hapoel has picked up just a single point in its past five matches
and David will be guiding it for the first time when it visits Hapoel Beersheba
on Saturday after replacing the sacked Yossi Abuksis.
Ashdod SC hosts Hapoel Ramat Gan, Hapoel Haifa visits Hapoel Acre and Ironi
Kiryat Shmona plays Bnei Yehuda, with Maccabi Netanya welcoming Bnei Sakhnin on