New Zimbabwe.com

African players in Europe: Mane helps Liverpool back to top

By AFP


Sadio Mane captured the headlines among Africans in Europe at the weekend by opening the scoring as Liverpool beat Manchester United 3-1 to regain the Premier League leadership.

It was the eight goal of the season for the Senegalese winger, but his first in nine matches in all competitions.

Mane was among 10 stars short-listed last week for the 2018 African Player of the Year award, won last year by Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah of Egypt.

England

SADIO MANE (Liverpool)

He set Liverpool on the way back to the top of the Premier League with a fine finish in a 3-1 win over bitter rivals Manchester United at Anfield. Mane struck in the 24th minute, controlling Fabinho’s majestic pass on his chest before firing past David De Gea to put Liverpool ahead.

PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG (Arsenal)

The Gabon striker has gone three games without scoring after Arsenal crashed to a shock 3-2 defeat at struggling Southampton. Aubameyang has netted only three times in his last nine appearances for Unai Emery’s side as the Gunners saw their 22-game unbeaten run come to an end. He missed a golden opportunity with a tame finish straight at Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy.

JORDAN AYEW (Crystal Palace)

The Ghana forward’s barren streak extended to 13 matches, but he still finished the day satisfied as Palace bagged a crucial 1-0 win against Leicester. Ayew is still waiting for his first goal since joining Palace — his last came in April for Swansea.

Spain

THOMAS PARTEY (Atletico Madrid)

The Ghana midfielder played his part in helping Atletico Madrid claim a crucial win at Real Valladolid. Partey replaced left-back Filipe Luis on the hour mark as coach Diego Simeone changed tactics. Saul Niguez’s own goal saw Atletico pegged back to 2-2, but Antoine Griezmann’s 80th-minute strike saw them stay only three points behind leaders Barcelona.

EMMANUEL BOATENG (Levante)

Ghanaian Boateng would have had fond memories of facing Barcelona heading into Levante’s game against the champions, after his stunning hat-trick in the 5-4 win that ended the Catalans’ hopes of going last season unbeaten. But despite a strong start, Luis Suarez gave Barca the lead just seconds after Boateng hit the bar as Levante were thrashed 5-0.

Italy

BRYAN DABO (Fiorentina)

Burkinabe midfielder Dabo came off the bench to score the third goal in a 3-1 win for Fiorentina over local rivals Empoli that ended the Tuscany side’s eight-match winless league streak. The 26-year-old Dabo came on after 75 minutes and had an immediate impact, picking up a pass in his own half and racing forward to fire in his first Serie A goal of the season.

SEKO FOFANA (Udinese), KEITA BALDE/KWADWO ASAMOAH (Inter Milan)

Ivory Coast international Fofana’s handball proved the downfall of Udinese as Inter Milan captain Mauro Icardi slotted in the resulting penalty on 76 minutes for the only goal at the San Siro. Fofana had prove efficient beforehand, intercepting a dangerous Joao Mario pull-back, but jumped at a corner with his hand close to his head and the video assistant referee (VAR) awarded a penalty. Inter Milan’s Senegalese winger Balde started and a teammate, Ghanaian Asamoah, was foiled by the woodwork after 70 minutes.

Germany

CHADRAC AKOLO (Stuttgart)

Akolo made the most of his first start under Markus Weinzierl, proving a constant threat on goal for Stuttgart in a 2-1 home win over Hertha Berlin. The Democratic Republic of Congo midfielder’s 68th-minute header forced a fine save out of goalkeeper Rune Jarstein and his presence created the space for Stuttgart’s goal-hunter Mario Gomez to put the home side ahead minutes later.

ACHRAF HAKIMI (Borussia Dortmund)

While Dortmund attackers Marco Reus, Paco Alcacer and Jadon Sancho dominate the headlines, little has been said about the club’s defensive transformation under coach Lucien Favre. At the heart of it all has been 20-year-old Morocco defender Hakimi, who again neutralised Bremen’s principal attacking threats Max Kruse and Milot Rashica in a 2-1 win for the Bundesliga leaders. Hakimi, on loan from Real Madrid, has grown into a key component in Dortmund’s defence, and is also quick to launch counter-attacks.

France

NICOLAS PEPE (Lille)

In-form striker Pepe scored what proved to be the winner as 10-man Lille claimed a 3-2 victory at Nimes to consolidate second place in Ligue 1. The Ivorian is forming a deadly partnership with Jonathan Bamba, who also scored. Losing coach Bernard Blaquart said: “After the PSG strikers, Pepe and Bamba are the best.”

MOUSSA DOUMBIA (Reims)

Malian Doumbia scored the opening goal for Reims as they beat Strasbourg 2-1 to move into the top half of the table. After the game his manager David Guion complained that Doumbia should have made the game safe but wasted his second golden chance.