AFRICAN PLAYERS IN EUROPE: Wissa’s historic double and Foster back among the goals

football22 April 2024 11:38| © Mzansi Football

We are very much at the business end of the season in Europe’s elite leagues, where every point becomes crucial, and each goal or assists is celebrated that little bit more.

African players continue to play a huge role in their teams’ successes, and we pick out the best performers from this weekend’s action.


In the long absences of Ivan Toney at Brentford this season, Wissa has been outstanding, and he netted his first ever Premier League brace in the 5-1 victory over Luton Town on Saturday that ended any lingering doubts that his side may be drawn into a relegation battle. His first was a superb shot from 25-yards after being played through by Bryan Mbeumo, and his second more of a bundled finish when he found himself in the right place at the right time. They were different in their construction, but all count! That is now 10 goals this season for them 27-year-old in what is his best campaign to date.


Mbeumo may not have got on the scoresheet for Brentford in their thumping win over Luton, but he ran the show and was simply superb. He is credited with two assists, the first a beautifully weighted through-ball for Yoane Wissa and the second a dink to the back post for Keane Lewis-Potter to score. But he also had a hand in others earlier in the build-up as Brentford ran riot and might have netted plenty more. Mbeumo himself struck the woodwork with a curling shot from the edge of the box. That is eight goals and five assists in a season where he missed three months due to injury. He has been Player of the Season for Brentford for sure.


Foster’s Burnley are still fighting for survival, and he helped their cause with a fifth goal of the season in Saturday’s 4-1 win at bottom side Sheffield United. It was a neat finish too as he swept the ball home first time from Lorenz Assignon’s low cross to show all of his technical quality. It has been a tough season for Foster off the pitch, but he has been a key man for Burnley on it and certainly looks at home in the Premier League with eight goal contributions in all.


Everton came out on the right side of a real relegation six-pointer against Nottingham Forest on Sunday, and it was Senegal midfielder Gueye who sent them on their way with a rare goal. He struck a 25-yard low shot that crept into the far corner of the net to bring relief to the Toffees. He has now taken exactly 100 shots from outside the box in the Premier League and scored twice, but this one was priceless to the Everton. He also netted an important winner earlier in the season at Crystal Palace.


Doucoure has not been able to recapture his scoring form from earlier in the season following a return from injury but did provide an assist for Everton’s second against Forest. He played a neat one-two with Dwight McNeil and the latter rifled in a low shot from outside the box to make it 2-0 and seal the points for the Merseyside club. It was his second assists to go with six goals this campaign and he remains Everton’s leading scorer.


Fiorentina kept their hopes of European football next season alive with a 2-0 win at Salernitana, though they left it late and only opened the scoring in the 80th minute through substitute Kouame, who netted his second goal of the campaign. He had earlier missed a one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but at the second time of asking floated a looping header into the far post to give his side the lead. That is two goals and one assistant in 18 Serie A appearances (9 starts).


Toure scored Atalanta’s second goal in their 2-1 win at Monza to keep a grip on six place in Serie A and European football next season. It was his second goal in his first league start of the season (to go with four substitute appearances) and could be priceless come the end of the campaign. It was a fine finish too as he was fed the ball from the left by Ademola Lookman and rifled the ball into the back of the net with a clever bit of skill under pressure from the defender.


Lookman was the architect for Atalanta’s win having laid on both goals for his side with two assists. His first was a dangerous corner that was delivered into a superb area and Charles Ketelaere headed his seventh goal of the season into the back of the net. The second was that lovely pass for Toure to finish. That is now six assists to go with eight goals for a total of 14 goal contributions this campaign, showing how vital the Super Eagles star is to Atalanta.


Empoli stunned defending champions Napoli with a 1-0 home win to provide a massive boost in their bid to beat the drop. The goal came early on, and it was Ghana star Gyasi who laid it on for Alberto Cerri to score his first of the season. Gyasi’s pinpoint cross from inside the box provided the perfect headed opportunity fr the striker. It was a first assist of the campaign to go with a single goal for the Ghanian in 28 appearances (16 starts) this season.


Villarreal completed a 2-1 victory at bottom side Almeria, though they needed a 92nd winner to do it. But before that Akhomach put them in front in the first half with only his second goal of the campaign to go with two assists. It was a neat side-footed finish from 15 yards from the Spanish-born Moroccan, who is in his first full season in LaLiga having previously made two appearances for Barcelona in 2021/22.