Yellow-and-blue closes in on Beersheba

Scarione brace gives Mac TA 2-1 win over Sakhnin, reducing gap from top to six points

January 23, 2017 00:29
3 minute read.
Maccabi Tel Aviv midfielder Oscar Scarione netted a brace in his return to the lineup last night, le

Maccabi Tel Aviv midfielder Oscar Scarione netted a brace in his return to the lineup last night, leading the yellow-and-blue to a 2-1 win over Bnei Sakhnin in Premier League action.. (photo credit: YONI ARIELI)

Maccabi Tel Aviv breathed new life into the Premier League title race on Sunday night, beating Bnei Sakhnin 2-1 in Netanya to close within six points of reigning champion Hapoel Beersheba.

Maccabi registered its third straight league win under sports director Jordi Cruyff, who continued to act as coach following the sacking of Shota Arveladze earlier this month.

Oscar Scarione scored both of Maccabi’s goals in the 16th and 78th minutes in his return to the lineup after a month out through injury.

Sakhnin equalized through Georginho in the 73rd minute, but it was not enough for the visitors to extend their eight-match unbeaten run.

“If you keep missing your chances in the end you pay for it and there was a moment when we thought we paid for it,” said Cruyff. “But luckily enough we had another chance and scored when we least expected it.”

Maccabi was without winger Tal Ben- Haim, who was left off the squad after complaining about back pain in Saturday’s training session.

Ben-Haim is unhappy with the club after Maccabi rejected an offer estimated at 3.5 million euros for his services from Belgian side Club Brugge. Ben- Haim wants to leave the yellow-andblue in the January transfer window, but the buy-out clause of 2.9 million euros in his contract can only be activated in the summer window.

While Maccabi is determined to keep Ben-Haim at least until the end of the season, the club is content with parting ways with Nigerian midfielder Nosa Igiebor, who was also not included in Sunday’s squad and is wanted by Chinese club Tianjin.

Maccabi didn’t seem to miss Ben- Haim and Igiebor, registering one of its better halves of the season to take a 1-0 lead into the break. The hosts completely dominated the first half and should have led by more than a single goal, scored by Scarione in the 16th minute.

Maccabi registered 18 shots in the opening 45 minutes, including seven on target, while Sakhnin had just two chances, both of them off target.

The yellow-and-blue had an ideal opportunity to double the advantage and effectively clinch the points in the 52nd minute after referee Shlomi Ben-Avraham determined that Firas Murgarbi brought down Eyal Golasa.

However, Barak Itzhaki blasted his penalty above the crossbar and Sakhnin equalized in the 73rd minute. The visitors made the most of their opportunity when it arrived, with Brazilian Georginho surging into the box and firing past goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic.

It took Tel Aviv just five minutes to move back in front, with Scarione ensuring the hosts ended the night with all three points after being put through by Gal Alberman’s perfectly weighted ball.

Also Sunday, Beitar Jerusalem finally combined two straight league wins for the first time this season, beating Hapoel Kfar Saba 2-0.

Idan Vered headed in the opener in the 74th minute, converting an excellent cross by debutant Hen Ezra. Kfar Saba lost Ran Itzhak to a red card in the 83rd minute and Israel Zaguri, who like Ezra also joined from Hapoel Tel Aviv last week, secured the three points with a goal in his debut five minutes from time.

Earlier Sunday, Bnei Yehuda climbed out of the relegation zone with a 2-0 victory over Ashdod SC, snapping a seven-match winless streak.

Beni Yehuda’s last win came against Maccabi Tel Aviv back in November and the three points picked up on Sunday will come as a great relief for sports director Yitzhak Shum and coach Nissan Yehezkel, who finally claimed their first win at the club in the sixth time of asking. Bnei Yehuda drew its first four matches under their guidance by a 1-1 score-line before losing 2-1 to Hapoel Beersheba last week.

Alon Turgeman (28) and Almog Buzaglo (65) scored for Bnei Yehuda, with Ashdod’s Dean David being sent off three minutes into the second half.

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