African Players Weekend Round-Up
Stars Andre Ayew of Ghana and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Gabon were among the African scorers in Europe at the weekend. Ayew, a son of Ghana legend Abedi “Pele” Ayew, scored only his second goal for West Ham to salvage a 1-1 draw at Watford in the English Premier League.
Former African Footballer of the Year Aubameyang bagged a brace for Borussia Dortmund as they triumphed 3-0 at Freiburg in the German Bundesliga.
ANDRE AYEW (West Ham) The Ghana striker came to West Ham’s rescue as he rose off the bench to score the second-half equaliser in his side’s 1-1 draw against Watford. With his side trailing to Troy Deeney’s early penalty at Vicarage Road, Hammers boss Slaven Bilic sent on Ayew in the 65th minute and the move paid dividends just eight minutes later. Michail Antonio’s burst into the penalty area ended with a shot that hit both posts before rebounding to Ayew, who slotted home from close-range to claim just his second West Ham goal since signing from Swansea last August.
IDRISSA GUEYE(Everton) The Senegal midfielder scored his first goal for Everton to set up his team’s 2-0 win over bottom-of-the-table Sunderland at Goodison Park. Gueye has been a solid addition to Everton’s central midfield since arriving from Aston Villa in August, but his holding role meant there had been few chances for him to get on the scoresheet. The 27-year-old made up for lost time in the 40th minute when he burst forward to meet Seamus Coleman’s low cross with a powerful strike that flashed beyond Jordan Pickford.
VICTOR WANYAMA (Tottenham) The Kenya midfielder played the full 90 minutes as Tottenham thrashed Stoke 4-0 to climb to second in the Premier League. After the frustration of a midweek Europa League exit against unfancied Belgians Gent, Wanyama gave a typically powerful display as he overwhelmed Stoke’s midfielders with his muscular style, helping lay the foundation for Harry Kane’s hat-trick.
CEDRIC BAKAMBU (Villarreal) The Democratic Republic of Congo striker looked to have Villarreal on course for a famous win over Real Madrid when he slotted home from the edge of the area to give the Yellow Submarines a 2-0 lead just before the hour mark with his fourth goal of the season. However, Madrid staged a heroic comeback to eventually run out 3-2 winners.
MEHDI CARCELA-GONZALEZ (Granada) Moroccan winger Carcela-Gonzalez scored for the second straight week as he blasted into the top corner to briefly bring Granada level at 1-1 away to Athletic Bilbao. The Andalusians, though, remain mired in the relegation zone as Athletic went on to win 3-1.
MOHAMED SALAH (Roma) Salah looks to have fully digested Egypt’s defeat in the Africa Cup of Nations final to Cameroon — he was back to his sizzling best in a 3-1 win at Inter Milan that saw Belgian Radja Nainggolan hit a spectacular brace to keep Roma in the title race, seven points behind leaders Juventus. Salah was in the thick of an end-to-end San Siro thriller from the off, but in the opening minutes wasted a great chance for the opener when he fired straight at goalkeeper Samir Handanovic after jumping on to Edin Dzeko’s smart chip.
FRANCK KESSIE (Atalanta) Ivorian powerhouse Kessie picked the wrong day for a sending-off, but Atalanta still forged on with 10 men to stun Napoli 2-0 at a shocked San Paolo to maintain their push for a place in Europe next season.
If reports were correct, scouts from Manchester United had travelled to Naples to watch the 20-year-old Ivorian striker — although they probably left more impressed by two-goal hero Mattia Caldara — although he is set for a 2018 move to Juventus. Kessie’s first act of note was to go through Amadou Diawara to earn a caution. Only three minutes later, he saw red for stopping Lorenzo Insigne launching a counter.
PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG (Borussia Dortmund) Dortmund’s Gabon striker proved he’s back to his best with two clinically-taken goals in a 3-0 win at Freiburg to leave him as the league’s joint top scorer alongside Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski. Both hot-shots have 19 goals this season and Aubameyang drilled home second-half passes from Marco Reus and Erik Durm to seal the win which left Dortmund third.
NABY KEITA (RB Leipzig) The Guinea midfielder turned in another impressive display and had a hand in two goals in RB Leipzig’s 3-1 home win against Cologne which left them five points behind Bayern Munich. Leipzig went 2-0 up after Keita’s cross was turned into his net by Cologne defender Dominic Maroh on 34 minutes. Keita then provided the final pass to allow Timo Werner to hit his second goal of the game and seal the win on 65 minutes.
LAMINE SANE (Werder Bremen) The Senegal defender provided the final pass for ex-Arsenal winger Serge Gnabry to score Bremen’s second in a 2-1 win at Wolfsburg. The valuable win lifted struggling Bremen out of the bottom three and led to Wolfsburg dismissing Valerien Ismael as coach.
FRANCE ADAM OUNAS (Bordeaux) Bordeaux were in trouble against Lille, trailing 2-1, until Algerian attacking midfielder Ounas contributed two goals within four minutes deep in the second half to salvage a win that left his club fifth.