African players in Europe: Mane moves Liverpool closer to title
Paris: Reigning African Footballer of the Year Sadio Mane scored the goal that brought Liverpool victory at Norwich and moved the Reds closer to a first English league title in 30 years.
The 27-year-old Senegalese came off the bench to strike on 78 minutes and break the resistance of the gallant home side in the lively top-versus-bottom clash.
Gabonese Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ivorian Nicolas Pepe of Arsenal were other African scorers in the Premier League at the weekend.
PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG/NICOLAS PEPE (Arsenal)
Pepe teed up Aubameyang for his 17th goal of the season with a towering header to open the floodgates in Arsenal’s 4-0 win over Newcastle. The Ivorian then found the net himself with a trademark left-foot finish and set up another goal late on for Alexandre Lacazette as the Gunners returned to winning ways after four straight draws.
SADIO MANE (Liverpool)
Mane scored the only goal in Liverpool’s 1-0 win at Norwich to continue their relentless run towards the Premier League title. He was making his comeback from a hamstring injury, but showed no signs of rustiness by controlling Jordan Henderson’s through ball with his right foot then firing home with his left.
JOSEPH AIDOO (Celta Vigo)
Ghanaian Aidoo found himself lined up against a stellar cast of strikers as he played on the right side of Celta Vigo’s back three at Real Madrid. Real recalled Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale but Aidoo and the defence conceded only two goals to earn a draw in Madrid and keep just above the relegation zone. Aidoo came within a finger nail of making an even bigger splash. In the final minute of the first half he outjumped the Real defence at a corner and smashed a header toward the far corner of the goal, only to be denied by a world-class save from Thibaut Courtois.
Ivorian forward Gervinho returned for Europa League hopefuls Parma, tapping in on 25 minutes in a 1-0 victory over Sassuolo, for his fifth goal this season. The 32-year-old had been exiled from the first team and dropped for four games after trying to force a move to Al Sadd, the Qatari club coached by former Barcelona star Xavi.
ACHRAF HAKIMI (Borussia Dortmund)
The Morocco wing-back again proved why he is one of Dortmund’s most potent forces going forward with two assists in a 4-0 drubbing of Eintracht Frankfurt. The 21-year-old, on loan from Real Madrid, spotted captain Lukasz Piszczek free on the edge of the area to give Dortmund a first-half lead. Hakimi then claimed his ninth league assist this season just after the break, getting in behind the defence to square for Norwegian teenager Erling Braut Haaland to score his ninth goal in six games.
JAMILU COLLINS (Paderborn)
The Nigeria defender failed to stop bottom side Paderborn losing 2-1 at home to Hertha Berlin after deflecting a shot by Brazilian striker Matheus Cunha into the net. At 1-1 in the second half, Collins was on the goalline when Cunha hit a shot with the side of his foot, which cannoned off the defender.
VICTOR OSIMHEN (LILLE)
Nigerian international Osimhen gave Lille a 51st-minute lead against second-placed Marseille, pouncing onto Jonathan Bamba’s pass to beat goalkeeper Steve Mandanda for his 13th goal of the season, the same number as PSG’s Brazilian superstar Neymar. However, their Champions League rivals hit back with two goals in two second-half minutes to earn the three points. – AFP