Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC's ten-year drought is over after they clinched their 19th Israeli championship with a 2-0 victory over Hapoel Ironi Nir Ramat HaSharon FC.
The Ramat Gan Stadium was full to its 40,000 capacity with Maccabi fans hoping to cheer their side over the line; any nerves were salved with Israel Under-21 midfielder Dor Micha's 19th-minute opener. Rada Prica's strike 12 minutes from time sealed a win that leaves Óscar García's men with an unassailable 13-point advantage over Maccabi Haifa FC with four games remaining.
It ends a barren decade for the Yellows and underlines their status as the most decorated club in Israel. It also rewards the new philosophy installed by Mitchell Goldhar, the Canadian owner who made wholesale changes last summer. Jordi Cruyff came in as sports director and García, who had been working in FC Barcelona's youth set-up, was named coach.
"I am very proud," said Goldhar. "We are still in the middle of the process and now we will see the results. I hope Óscar stays next season." Cruyff was also looking ahead to 2013/14, talking of strengthening the squad, but García was just savouring the moment. "When I saw the players during pre-season I knew we were on to something," he said.
With Eliran Atar prolific, the Spaniard's team tussled with Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC until finally hitting the front for good at the end of December. Monday's win was their 11th in their last 13 league games – they drew the other two.
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|Last updated: 22/04/2013 22:04 CET|
|H. Ramat HaSharon||0-2||M. Tel-Aviv|
Micha 19, Prica 78
|Venue: Tel Aviv|
|Bnei Yehuda||2-1||M. Haifa|
Zamir 15, Hrepka 40
|H. Haifa||3-1||Beitar Jerusalem|
Gluščević 12, Avidor 31, Abukrat 90
Ben Shushan 35
Shivhon 2, Dajani 75
Abu Anza 62
|H. Beer Sheva||0-0||H. Akko|
|H. Tel-Aviv||1-4||H. Kiryat Shmona|
Abuhazira 48, 64, 78, 80
|1||Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC||32||73|
|2||Maccabi Haifa FC||32||60|
|3||Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC||32||52|
|4||Hapoel Kiryat Shmona FC||32||50|
|5||Bnei Yehuda Tel-Aviv FC||32||46|
|6||Hapoel Ironi Nir Ramat HaSharon FC||32||37|
|8||Hapoel Haifa FC||31||38|
|9||Beitar Jerusalem FC||31||38|
|10||Hapoel Beer Sheva FC||31||35|
|11||Hapoel Akko FC||31||33|
|12||Maccabi Netanya FC||31||32|
|13||Bnei Sakhnin FC||30||32|
|14||Hapoel Ramat Gan FC||30||30|