Soccer: Surging Netanya nets 3rd straight

Soccer Surging Netanya

Maccabi Netanya continued its improvement under Reuven Atar on Sunday night, defeating Bnei Sakhnin 3-0 for its third straight Premier League victory. Netanya has won four of its last five games and Atar has turned it from a relegation favorite to a top-six playoff candidate within two-and-a-half months. Sakhnin, on the other hand, has still got plenty of work to do if it is to escape relegation, with Marco Balbul's team just one point above rock-bottom Ahi Nazareth after losing its second straight game. After a poor first half by both sides, Netanya dominated the second, scoring three unanswered goals. In the 50th minute, Almog Cohen headed in the opener from a Shalev Menashe cross, with the latter doubling Netanya's lead 12 minutes later. Khaled Khalaila left the hosts with 10 men after being shown a second yellow card a minute later, and Snir Gueta completed Maccabi's victory with another goal five minutes from time. On Monday, Maccabi Tel Aviv hosts Ashdod SC. Meanwhile, Eli Mahpud is set to return to Hapoel Petah Tikva, a week after being replaced as Ahi Nazareth coach by John Gregory. Mahpud will work with Shavit Elimelech, who has acted as head coach since the sacking of Danny Niron last month. Elimelech picked up just one point in his three matches in charge, losing his last two. Mahpud guided Petah Tikva to Premier League promotion in the 2007/08 season, but was sacked after a poor run the following season.