Bo­ufal de­liv­ers on prom­ise in Saints win

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Morocco’s Sofi­ane Bo­ufal grabbed his first Pre­mier League goal as Southamp­ton re­bounded from their Europa League dis­ap­point­ment with a 1-0 win over Mid­dles­brough at the week­end. Riyad Mahrez and Alex Iwobi were among other African stars on the win­ning side in Eng­land, while Sadio Mane shone for Liver­pool but couldn’t help the Reds col­lect all three points in a 2-2 draw against West Ham. Gabon’s Pierre-Em­er­ick Aubameyang en­dured a quiet af­ter­noon as Borus­sia Dort­mund drew 1-1 with Cologne to lose fur­ther ground in Ger­many.

ENG­LAND RIYAD MAHREZ (Le­ices­ter)

Prior to the 4-2 hum­bling of Manch­ester City on Satur­day one could have been for­given for think­ing the Riyad Mahrez who starred in last sea­son’s ti­tle-win­ning ex­ploits had been re­placed by a less-tal­ented looka­like on his re­turn for this cam­paign. The 25-year-old’s level plunged so much that a week ago Clau­dio Ranieri hinted he might drop him. Whether that sparked a re­ac­tion or not, Mahrez was in far bet­ter form against City and his de­light­ful pass to set up Jamie Vardy sealed a strong per­for­mance by the Al­ge­rian.

ALEX IWOBI (Arse­nal)

The 20-year-old Nige­rian in­ter­na­tional showed a cool head when he took pos­ses­sion af­ter Arse­nal team-mate Alexis Sanchez was fouled on the edge of the Stoke penalty area and scored with a right­footed shot to es­tab­lish a cru­cial match­win­ning two-goal cush­ion a quar­ter of an hour from time.

VIC­TOR WANYAMA (Tot­ten­ham)

Spurs could well have de­servedly gone home with hon­ours even against Manch­ester United but the Kenyan mid­field en­forcer got the ex­e­cu­tion hor­ri­bly wrong hav­ing ghosted in for a free header. For some rea­son the 25-year-old didn’t head goal­wards but across goal when an equaliser looked on the cards.

SOFI­ANE BO­UFAL (Southamp­ton)

Nerves were be­gin­ning to fray over whether Moroc­can in­ter­na­tional Sofi­ane Bo­ufal was worth the record fee of £16 mil­lion ($20 mil­lion, 18 mil­lion eu­ros) paid out by Saints in Au­gust. He had found the net just once prior to Sun­day-and that was in an EFL Cup game-but it was worth the wait for the 23-year-old’s first Pre­mier League goal as he ri­fled home from the edge of the area af­ter a sub­lime five-man move.

SADIO MANE (Liver­pool)

The Sene­galese has been one of Liver­pool’s stand­out per­form­ers this sea­son since his move from Southamp­ton, equally as good at find­ing the net as cre­at­ing goals for for his team-mates. The 24-year-old was in cre­ative mode against West Ham United, tee­ing up Adam Lal­lana for their open­ing goal. His daz­zling foot­work in the box then bam­boo­zled the Ham­mers de­fence and led to Divock Origi’s equaliser early in the sec­ond half.

GER­MANY PIERRE-EM­ER­ICK AUBAMEYANG (Borus­sia Dort­mund)

The Bun­desliga’s top scorer had an af­ter­noon to for­get in Borus­sia Dort­mund’s 1-1 draw at Cologne on Satur­day as Marco Reus’s 90th-minute equaliser res­cued the vis­i­tors. Aubameyang had the ball in the Cologne net with just nine min­utes gone, but his ef­fort was ruled out for off­side and, un­usu­ally for the Gabon striker, that proved to be his only shot on goal for the en­tire match. It was a poor per­for­mance from Dort­mund, only com­pen­sated by Reus’s late equaliser af­ter Artjoms Rud­nevs gave Cologne a first-half lead.

ITALY KALIDOU KOULIBALY (Napoli)

Napoli on Sun­day con­firmed their re­cent pur­ple patch-which has seen the south­ern­ers rout In­ter Milan 3-0 and beat Ben­fica in the Cham­pi­ons League to se­cure top spot in their group-but Sun­day’s 5-0 rout of Cagliari came at the cost of los­ing Koulibaly to a in­jury. Koulibaly hob­bled off af­ter just 20 min­utes at the San Paolo af­ter go­ing in for a tackle that earned him a book­ing and a sore knee to boot. Coach Mau­r­izio Sarri said af­ter­wards the in­jury “did not look se­ri­ous” but pend­ing scans on Mon­day Sarri will cer­tainly be hop­ing that is the case. Koulibaly has been a rock at the back for the Ital­ians in what is an­other promis­ing sea­son, all in spite of in­jury to Pol­ish striker Arka­diusz Mi­lik.

KEITA BALDE (Lazio)

Keita started on the bench at Sam­p­do­ria amid re­ports he could be the sub­ject of a win­ter trans­fer to La Liga side Va­len­cia, who are coached by ex-Fiorentina and Italy boss Ce­sare Pran­delli, and did not make an ap­pear­ance un­til the 65th minute when he re­placed Lu­cas Biglia. Lazio had built a com­fort­able 2-0 lead by the time the Sene­gal striker ar­rived, thanks to first-half goals from Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Marco Parolo. Sam­p­do­ria grabbed a life­line when late sub­sti­tute Pa­trik Schick hit a last­gasp rocket, but Lazio held on for a ninth win that moved them up to fifth, level with Napoli and eight points be­hind lead­ers Ju­ven­tus.

FRANCE BEN­JAMIN MOUKANDJO (Lori­ent)

The 28-year-old Cameroon striker hit his sev­enth Ligue 1 goal of the sea­son but was un­able to pre­vent a 3-2 de­feat to Toulouse for whom Swedish in­ter­na­tional Ola Toivo­nen scored a hat-trick. Moukandjo, who has 36 caps, has scored more than a third of his team’s 18 league goals but Lori­ent are still at the foot of the ta­ble. — AFP

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