Aussies Abroad: Degenek, Sainsbury celebrate wins to maintain title bids

Milos Degenek and Red Star Belgrade started 2020 as they left off 2019 with a victory to retain their lead at the top of the Serbian Super Liga.

The reigning champions returned from the winter break with a 2-0 win against fourth-placed FK Čukarički to extend their winning run in Serbia’s top flight to six matches. 

Early goals from Veljko Nikolaic on five minutes and Njegos Petrovic on 13 minutes did the damage at Čukarički Stadium in Belgrade, before El Fardou Ben missed a chance to make it three from the penalty spot in first-half stoppage time.

Degenek started at centre-back for Crvena Zvedza, who lead the competition by 13 points, ahead of second-placed Vojvodina – after their 1-0 win against Proleter Novi Sad.

Meanwhile, Trent Sainsbury’s Maccabi Haifa put the pressure on Israeli Premier League leaders Maccabi Tel-Aviv with a 1-0 triumph against fifth-placed Hapoel Hadera at Sammy Ofer Stadium.

Sainsbury helped the second-placed Greens secure the clean sheet while fellow Socceroo Nikita Rukavytsya grabbed the decisive goal on 72 minutes to close the gap at the top to three points.

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Across in England, the chase for the Championship is hotting up as Bailey Wright’s Sunderland and Harry Souttar’s Fleetwood Town both secured important League One wins.

Wright played 84 minutes of the Black Cats’ 1-0 win on the road against Oxford United, with John Mourinho’s third-minute own goal enough for the fifth-placed side close the gap on automatic promotion places.

Souttar and Fleetwood recorded a 2-1 triumph against Peterborough thanks to Wes Burns’ 76th-minute winner. The Cod Army rise to eighth, two points off the playoff places, and knock to Posh down from second to third position.

Kenny Dougall was celebrating a huge 3-0 win for bottom-of-the-table Barnsley against high-flying Fulham in the Championship.

The Aussie came on for the last nine minutes at Craven Cottage after Cauley Woodrow’s double against his former club put the Tykes in a strong position. Barnsley are now six-points adrift of safety.

In Germany, Brandon Borrello was an unused substitute in SC Freiburg’s 1-1 Bundesliga draw against Augsburg at WWK Arena.

Back down under, Mitchell Duke netted from the penalty spot in Western Sydney Wanderers' 1-1 draw against Newcastle Jets at Bankwest Stadium, while his fellow Socceroos forward Jamie Maclaren fired a blank in Melbourne City's 1-0 reverse against Wellington Phoenix in Auckland.

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