Africans in Europe: Pepe scores for Arsenal, Osimhen sent off for Napoli

SAN SEBASTIAN, SPAIN - OCTOBER 29: Robin Le Normand of Real Sociedad duels for the ball with Victor Osimhen of SSC Napoli during the UEFA Europa League Group F stage match between Real Sociedad and SSC Napoli at Estadio Anoeta on October 29, 2020 in San Sebastian, Spain. (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)
Nicolas Pepe of Arsenal wins a header during the UEFA Europa League Group B stage match between Arsenal FC and Dundalk FC at Emirates Stadium in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Thursday saw a total of 24 matches take place for the second round of group stage games of this season’s Europa League. Some African players made their mark contributing to their teams’ efforts while others were not so lucky on the night. We take a look at some of the highlights of the action.

Côte d’Ivoire winger Nicolas Pepe ended his goal drought as he rounded off the scoring for Arsenal in a 3-0 win against Irish side Dundalk. The win maintained Arsenal’s 100 percent start to the group stage.

In Spain, Napoli secured a 1-0 win against Real Sociedad but the victory was soured by the dismissal of Nigerian Victor Osimhen late in the match for a second bookable offence having come on as a substitute for Andrea Petagna.

Elsewhere, Algerian striker Ishak Belfodil scored once and assisted another goal, together with Togo’s Ihlas Bebou, for Hoffenheim who thrashed Gent 4-1. Belfodil’s compatriot Ismael Bennacer set up Diogo Dalot to score AC Milan’s third goal in a 3-0 win against Czech side Sparta Prague.

Veteran Congolese forward Dieumerci Mbokani set up the only goal as Belgian side Antwerp stunned Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 and Comoros midfielder El Fardou Ben scored twice for Red Star Belgrade in a 5-1 win at home to Slovan Liberec.

Olivier Verdon of Benin, unfortunately, scored an own goal as Ludogorets lost a seven-goal thriller 4-3 away against LASK Linz.

Ghanaian forward Owusu Kwabena opened the scoring for Qarabağ but the Azeri side fell to a 3-1 home defeat to Spanish side Villarreal. Meanwhile, Côte d’Ivoire’s Max Gradel set up a goal for Nigeria’s Olarenwaju Kayode as 10-man Sivasspor fell to a 2-1 loss to Maccabi Tel Aviv.

French side Nice edged out Hapoel Beer Sheva 1-0 with Algerian Youcef Atal setting up Amine Gouiri to find the back of the net.

Another Nigerian Peter Olayinka was also on target as Slavia Prague edged 10-man Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 to earn the Czech giants their first win.

The next round of matches in the competition will take place on November 5.

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