Africans shine in latest round of European football fixtures
Football leagues in Europe continued their quest to complete their domestic seasons as the continent recovers from the damaging effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Another round of matches kicked off on Friday with Italy becoming the last of Europe’s so-called big five leagues to resume matches.
Arsenal’s record signing Nicolas Pepe of Côte d’Ivoire gave the Gunners the lead midway through the second half but a dramatic late collapse saw Brighton score twice to win and complete the double over the hosts.
Ghana’s Jordan Ayew was on target as Crystal Palace defeated struggling Bournemouth 2-0 away from home to move up to ninth in the Premier League. Ayew’s strike saw him become Ghana’s all-time top scorer in the Premier League (25).
Côte d’Ivoire defender Serge Aurier provided an assist for Dutch winger Steven Bergwijn to score as Tottenham held Manchester United to a 1-1 draw at London Stadium on Friday.
Togolese forward Ihlas Bebou opened the scoring for Hoffenheim secured a Europa League qualification spot with a 4-0 home win against Union Berlin. Algerian Ramy Bensebaini provided an assist for Patrick Herrmann to seal a 3-1 win for Borussia Monchengladbach away to relegated Paderborn.
Cameroon defender Nicolas Nkoulou netted the first goal of the Serie A restart as Torino and Parma drew 1-1. Nkoulou celebrated his goal by taking a knee in solidarity with the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement. Côte d’Ivoire winger Gervinho would later provide an assist for teammate Juraj Kucka to equalize in the 31st minute.
Moroccan midfielder Mehdi Bourabia scored a goal and also put the ball in the back of his own net as Sassuolo slumped to a 4-1 loss at high-flying Atalanta on Sunday.
Oghenekaro Etebo of Nigeria scored for fifth-placed Getafe who drew 1-1 with relegation-threatened Eibar.
African footballers also featured prominently in other leagues across Europe with players from the north, west and south playing pivotal roles in their sides’ results.
Zambian midfielder Enock Mwepu was on the score sheet as Austrian champions RB Salzburg were held to a 2-2 draw by Wolfsberger AC while Ghanaian Samuel Tetteh also scored once in LASK Linz’s 2-0 win away to nine-man Sturm Graz.
Nigerian Bright Edomwonyi scored the first goal for Austria Vienna in a 2-1 win against bottom-of-the-table Tirol on Saturday in the Tipico Bundesliga.
Mali’s Abdoulay Diaby rounded off the scoring as Besiktas thumped Denizlispor 5-1and stayed in the race for a Europa League qualification spot while Mame Thiam of Senegal scored his third goal in two games as Kasimpasa beat Fenerbahce 2-0.
In a thrilling 3-3 draw between Galatasaray and Gaziantep, Younes Belhanda (Morocco) and Sofiane Feghouli (Algeria) scored for the home side while Papy Djilobodji (Senegal) and Patrick Twumasi (Ghana) netted for the visitors.
10-man Alanyaspor denied Trabzonspor the chance to return to the top of the Super Lig with Senegal’s Papiss Cisse scoring once while DR Congo defender Fabrice N’Sakala, who created the goal, was sent off for two bookable offences.
A 64th minute goal by Congo’s Mavis Tchibota earned league leaders Ludogorets a 2-1 win against Beroe, who scored through Senegalese striker Alioune Fall. Fall has scored four times in the three games since the league’s restart.
Gambian forward Ali Sowe scored an 88th minute equalizer as CSKA Sofia held Levski Sofia to a thrilling 3-3 draw in the Parva Liga. Senegal’s Iyane Thiam Khaly was also on target for Levski who are a point behind their opponents in the race for Europa League qualification.
Moroccan midfielder Omar El Kaddouri scored once and missed a penalty as PAOK defeated OFI Crete 3-1 while compatriot striker Youseff El Arabi was on target in a 3-1 win for table toppers Olympiacos against Panathinaikos.
In the Championship, Brentford kept alive their slim hopes of automatic promotion to the Premier League with a 2-0 win away to Fulham with Algerian Mohamed Said Benrahma scoring once while Ghana’s Andre Ayew netted a penalty in Swansea’s 3-0 win against Middlesbrough. Yakou Meite of Côte d’Ivoire laid on an assist for Lucas Joao to score in Reading’s 1-1 draw with Stoke City.
Jean-Pierre Nsame of Cameroon netted a hat-trick as Young Boys edged FC Zurich 3-2 to go level on points with St. Gallen at the top of the Swiss Super League. Nigerian striker Tosin Aiyegun had earlier given Zurich the lead.
DR Congo forward Ridge Munsy scored in FC Thun’s 2-1 defeat at Xamax while Blessing Chibuike Eleke of Nigeria came off the bench to score the winning goal in Luzern’s 2-1 win against Basel. Côte d’Ivoire’s Yao Eloge was unlucky as his second-half own goal denied Servette all three points in a 1-1 draw with Lugano.
In Lithuania, a strike from Côte d’Ivoire’s Lajo Traore strike saw Riterai snap a two-game losing streak with a 1-1 draw at home to FK Panevezys on Friday and Morocco’s Moha was one of three different goal scorers as Fortuna Liga leaders Slovan Bratislava extended their lead at the top to 13 points with a 3-2 win at Zilina in Slovakia.
In Belarus, Abdoulaye Diallo struck in the second half as Rukh Brest held second-placed Shakhtyor Soligorsk to a 1-1- draw while in Denmark, Ghanaian midfielder Mohammed Kudus grabbed a brace as Nordsjaelland thrashed Aalborg 4-0 in the Danish Superliga.
In Portugal, Emmanuel Hackman scored the winning goal as 17th placed Portimonense beat Maritimo in 15th 3-2 to close the gap on their opponents to four points in the fight to avoid relegation.