AFRICANS ABROAD: Salah, Osimhen keep flying the flag

football09 April 2024 12:00

Africa’s exports to Europe’s top leagues were in scoring mood this past weekend, contributing important goals as the various league campaigns ratchet up and head towards a dramatic finish.

The continent’s top player Victor Osimhen found the net again and there were other significant contributions from players in the leagues in England, Italy and Spain.


The African Footballer of the Year was back among the goals for the first time in his last six outings as he scored in the 4-2 away triumph over Monza on Sunday. Osimhen’s effort was the equaliser after the home side had taken an early lead and was quickly followed by two more Napoli goals as they went 3-1 up.

Osimhen, who was the Italian league’s top marksman last campaign, now has 12 Serie A goals this season, well short of top striker Lautaro Martinez of Inter Milan on 23.


The 31-year-old Egypt captain netted for a fourth time in his last five games with the late penalty equaliser as Liverpool forced a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford on Sunday. But the stalemate against archrivals Manchester United let Arsenal go top of the Premier League table on goal difference with defending champions Manchester City only a single point behind. Salah looks fully recovered from the hamstring injury suffered during the Africa Cup of Nations finals.


Brentford went to Villa Park on Saturday on the back of a run of eight games without a win and although they did not break that streak, their 3-3 draw was an important away point as they look to stay away from the relegation zone. Hosts Aston Villa were heavily fancied and 2-0 up shortly after halftime but Mbuemo brought back to 2-2 in the 61st minute. He converted a cross from the left, sticking out his foot to direct the ball into the net.


Wissa put Brentford 3-2 up after they had been two down against Villa, tucking away a square pass from the left to see the struggling London side into a much-needed lead. But they let the lead slip and had to share the spoils, although will likely have no complaints about taking one point away from home at a time when they are struggling and have not won since the beginning of February. It was Wissa’s eighth league goal of the season, keeping him as Brentford’s top marksman this campaign.


Mbaye scored a dramatic last gasp winner on Saturday to move his club out of the Serie A relegation places. The Senegal international, who went to the 2018 World Cup in Russia but has not played for his country since 2019, came on as a 70th minute substitute and was perfectly positioned for a drag back from the line and to place the ball with a side footed shot into the net. It sparked off wild celebrations for Empoli, who are now both two places and two points clear of the Italian league’s drop zone.


The Ghanaian striker netted a third goal of the Serie A campaign as Genoa came from behind to beat struggling Verona 2-1 away on Sunday. There was a touch of good fortune about the goal as Ekuban did not make proper contact when sliding in to meet a cross from the left from Ridgeciano Haps but it bounced off Verona’s Darko Lazovic and back into the path of the striker, who put it away at the second attempt. Genoa remained in 12th place in the Italian league.


Cagliari have had a positive last four weeks as they have moved away from the relegation places in Serie A but no result has been as significant as Sunday’s last gasp 2-1 home triumph over Atalanta. The 22-year-old Angolan came on in the 66th minute and did not take long to make his presence felt, whipping in a left footed cross from the touchline that was perfectly placed for Nicolas Viola to head home for a 88th minute winner.


Milan remained second in Serie A with a comfortable 3-0 win on Saturday over Lecce with Chukwueze once again in the starting line-up and emerging as man of the match. He set up the early goal for Christian Pulisic and then powered Milan in attack with his direct running and dribbling skills, giving the Lecce left-back Antonino Gallo a constant problem.

His defensive diligence inadvertently led to Nikola Krstovic being sent off, while a sublime reverse pass almost created a fourth goal for the substitute Luka Jovic.


It was an all-African goal for Napoli as they drew level in the 56th minute against Monza on Sunday. The Cameroon midfielder was out on the right flank when he crossed in a hanging ball that Osimhen attacked with vigour and powered into the net off his head.

Zambo Anguissa, who plays with 99 on his back, has started 25 of Napoli’s 31 league games this season, entrenching himself as vital pivot in the team.


Atalanta were in serious search for points in their bid to qualify for next season’s Champions League and were given the perfect start to their Serie A clash away at Cagliari in Sardinia on Sunday when Lookman fired in a cross from the left that Italy international Gianluca Scamacca cleverly steered home from point blank range, The 13th minute lead lasted until just before halftime but Atalanta lost 2-1 in the end.


The Eagles were always going to be up against it when hosting Premier League champions Manchester City on Saturday, but they did get an early glimmer of hope when they took the lead. But after 70 minutes it was 4-1 to City and place were left chasing a consolation, which saw Schlupp provide the assist for Frenchman Odsonne Edouard to make it 4-2 near the end.


Empoli needed a home win to get themselves out of relegation danger in Serie A and did so against Torino on Saturday at the Stadio Carlo Castellani. They took the lead three times, the second coming after Morocco substitute Maleh, freshly on, drove the ball down the middle of the field with a barnstorming run before playing it left to Matteo Cancellieri, who thrashed it home.