Africans score big in Europe

Mail & Guardian - - Sport & Games -

The new foot­ball sea­son is al­most three months old and the goals col­umn has cer­tainly not dis­ap­pointed. Africa’s bright­est stars con­tinue to thrive in Europe and have banged in a fair share them­selves. We re­cap the form of some of the con­ti­nent’s best.

ENG­LAND

Mo­hamed Salah (Liverpool)

Goals scored this sea­son: 9 Ap­pear­ances: 13 (1)

Lat­est: 3-0 Mari­bor

The Egyp­tian has been out­stand­ing for Liverpool since join­ing the club in the trans­fer win­dow, net­ting nine goals in all com­pe­ti­tions. But he suf­fered a rare blip last week when his weak first-half penalty was saved by Hud­der­s­field’s Jonas Lössl. Salah was grate­ful to his team­mates as three sec­ond-half goals spared his blushes.

Wil­fried Zaha (Crys­tal Palace) Goals scored this sea­son: 2 Ap­pear­ances: 4

Lat­est: 2-2 West Ham

The Ivo­rian winger se­cured what could prove to be one of the most valu­able points this sea­son for Crys­tal Palace psy­cho­log­i­cally, as they forced a draw against West Ham in the dy­ing sec­onds last week. The Ham­mers looked home and dry as they en­tered the sev­enth minute of time added on but Zaha had other ideas, lev­el­ling the match at 2-2 with a piece of in­di­vid­ual bril­liance.

An­dré Ayew (West Ham)

Goals scored this sea­son: 8 (4) Ap­pear­ances: 5

Lat­est: Crys­tal Palace 2-2

The Ghana­ian star, who joined the Ham­mers in Au­gust 2016, has done lit­tle to jus­tify his hefty trans­fer fee. But he showed why Slaven Bilic thought it worth bring­ing him on board when he put West Ham 2-0 up in the first half against Palace with a stun­ning 18m strike.

SPAIN

Cé­dric Bakambu (Villarreal)

Goals scored this sea­son: 9 Ap­pear­ances: 10 (2)

Lat­est: Atletico Madrid 1-1 Bakambu’s free-scor­ing form was brought to an end by Atletico Madrid’s fa­mously mean de­fence, but Villarreal did es­cape the Wanda Metropoli­tano with a 1-1 draw to ex­tend their un­beaten run against Atletico to five games. The Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo striker’s best chance came in the first pe­riod, when Ste­fan Savic showed great pace to re­cover and deny Bakambu a clear run on goal.

ITALY

Kwadwo Asamoah (Ju­ven­tus) Goals scored this sea­son: 0 Ap­pear­ances: 5 Lat­est: Sport­ing 1-1 Ghana­ian Asamoah was in­stru­men­tal in Gon­zalo Higuaín’s double in a 2-0 win for cham­pi­ons Ju­ven­tus at AC Mi­lan.

Asamoah linked up with Paulo Dy­bala to pass to Higuaín, who broke the 100-goal bar­rier with 101 goals in Serie A.

Achraf Lazaar (Ben­evento)

Goals scored this sea­son: 1 Ap­pear­ances: 5 (3)

Lat­est: 1-5 Lazio

Mo r o c c a n L a z a a r scored for Ben­evento in a 5-1 loss to Lazio — just the fourth goal of the sea­son for the Serie A tail-en­ders, who notched up their 11th straight de­feat since the sea­son be­gan.

GER­MANY

Ihlas Bebou (Hanover 96)

Goals scored this sea­son: 5 Ap­pear­ances: 10 (4)

Lat­est: 4-2 Dort­mund

The To­golese striker be­came a favourite with Hanover fans after scor­ing twice in a shock 4-2 win over Borus­sia Dort­mund. The 23-year-old, who grew up in Ger­many, showed ter­rific pace — and prof­ited from dread­ful Dort­mund de­fend­ing — to fin­ish off coun­ter­at­tacks on 40 and 86 min­utes. Dort­mund’s star Gabonese striker Pierre-Em­er­ick Aubameyang failed to score for the third straight game.

Na­bil Bentaleb (Schalke 04)

Goals scored this sea­son: 3 Ap­pear­ances: 7 (1)

Lat­est: 1-1 Wolfs­burg

Al­ge­ria’s ex-Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur mid­fielder net­ted his third goal of the sea­son when he con­verted a firsthalf penalty in the 1-1 draw at home to Wolfs­burg.

Naby Keïta (RB Leipzig)

Goals scored this sea­son: 2 Ap­pear­ances: 12

Lat­est: Porto 3-1

The Guinean mid­fielder picked up a foot in­jury in Leipzig’s 2-0 de­feat at Bay­ern Mu­nich, but was fit for Wed­nes­day’s Cham­pi­ons League game at Porto. Keïta — who put in an im­pres­sive dis­play — limped off on 86 min­utes after a kick from Spain in­ter­na­tional Thi­ago Al­cân­tara.

FRANCE

Keita Baldé (Monaco)

Goals scored this sea­son: 2 Ap­pear­ances: 9

Lat­est: Be­sik­tas 1-1

The 22-year-old Sene­galese in­ter­na­tional scored one of the sec­ond-half goals, as de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Monaco de­feated Nantes 2-0. Baldé, a for­mer Lazio player, was called up to re­place the in­jured Radamel Fal­cao. He took his chance when Brazil­ian left-back Jorge de­liv­ered a ball into the box that was met by João Moutinho with a cush­ioned header down for the Sene­gal striker to fin­ish. — AFP

Ac­tion man: An­dre Ayew put West Ham 2-0 up with stun­ning strikes. Photo: Ed­die Keogh/ Reuters

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