Lugassi stunner caps comeback for Mac TA

A stunning Moshe Lugassi goal in stoppage time gave Maccabi Tel Aviv a remarkable 3- 2 victory over Bnei Yehuda.

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)
A stunning Moshe Lugassi goal in the ninth minute of stoppage time gave Maccabi Tel Aviv a remarkable 3- 2 victory over Bnei Yehuda at Bloomfield Stadium on Monday night, extending the yellow-and-blue’s lead at the top of the Premier League standings back to eight points.
Maccabi seemed to be heading to a defeat when Oz Raly gave Bnei Yehuda the lead in the 90th minute with a contentious goal.
However, Rade Prica scored a dramatic equalizer in the 93rd minute and an unstoppable effort by Lugassi from 20 meters out with the final kick of the match secured Maccabi all three points and edged it ever closer to clinching the championship.
“When you are trailing in the 90th minute it is difficult, but I’m very proud of my players because they believed we could win,” said Tel Aviv coach Oscar Garcia. “I don’t believe in luck. I believe in hard work and positive mentality.”
After a largely event-less first half, Maccabi took the lead in the 52nd minute thanks to a Prica header. Bnei Yehuda got back on level terms courtesy of a Shalev Menashe header in the 74th minute and looked to be heading to its second win of the season over the yellow-and-blue after Raly lobbed the ball over ailing ‘keeper Barak Levy, who was struck in the face by the ball seconds earlier.
However, the controversy was quickly forgotten thanks to Prica’s superb volley and Lugassi’s extraordinary winner.
Hapoel TA unveils David as new coach
Freddy David admitted he’s hoping his stay at Hapoel Tel Aviv will last beyond this season despite only signing a contract until the end of 2012/13 on Monday.
David replaces Yossi Abuksis, who was sacked on Saturday after Hapoel only managed a 1-1 draw against Ironi Kiryat Shmona.
Hapoel won just two of its final 11 matches under Abuksis, picking up only a single point with a combined goal difference of 1-13 over its past five games.
The Reds, who remain in third place, aren’t even dreaming of catching league-leader Maccabi Tel Aviv anymore and are mainly hoping to finish in the top six and qualify for the championship playoffs.
Hapoel currently has a five-point gap from Beitar Jerusalem in seventh place with three more matches to be played until the playoffs begin.
“It is a real privilege to coach a very big club in Israeli soccer,” said David, who was sacked as Hapoel Ramat Gan coach in late November and will be guiding a top club for the first time at Tel Aviv. “I’m owed a salary from Ramat Gan until the end of the season and I could have turned down this offer. However, I love challenges and I want to help these players out of a tough situation.
I love coaching and I see no wrong in signing only until the end of the season. I don’t believe in long-term contracts and I know that when there’s a good relationship between a coach and the ownership than there is always a will to continue and work together.”
Hapoel is believed to have already offered Ran Ben-Shimon, who led Ironi Kiryat Shmona to the championship last season and currently guides AEK Larnaca of the Cypriot league, to take charge of the team from next season.
Nevertheless, owner Haim Ramon insisted that in the team’s current state he would have not have offered any coach in the world a long-term contract.
“Even if Jose Mourinho wanted to come I wouldn’t have signed him for a year and three months,” Ramon claimed. “We are not thinking about next season. No one at the club has approached Ben-Shimon.”