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.

MACCABI TEL AVIV striker Rade Prica scored a brace for his t (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
MACCABI TEL AVIV striker Rade Prica scored a brace for his t
(photo credit: 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 minute.
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 unforgettable win.
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.
Ramat Hasharon 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 side.
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.
Also Saturday, 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 Sunday.