African players in Europe: Lemina outmuscles Salah to stun Reds


Paris (AFP) – Gabon international Mario Lemina outmuscled two-time African Footballer of the Year Mohamed Salah to score and give lowly Fulham a shock 1-0 Premier League victory at struggling champions Liverpool.

The Egyptian hesitated when the ball ran loose inside the Reds’ box and Lemina pushed forward to net with a hard, low shot into the far corner of the net. 

A profitable weekend for Gabonese stars included national team captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang putting Arsenal ahead in a 1-1 draw at Burnley.

Here, AFP Sport rounds up the performances of African stars in the major European leagues:

ENGLAND

MARIO LEMINA (Fulham)

Lemina had been downcast after his accidental handball led to Josh Maja’s late equaliser being disallowed against Tottenham in Fulham’s previous game, but the 27-year-old enjoyed a cathartic moment against the troubled champions by scoring the only goal in first half stoppage-time. Lemina boosted third-bottom Fulham’s bid to avoid relegation as they moved level on points with Brighton, the club immediately above them.

PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG (Arsenal)

The former African Footballer of the Year scored his sixth goal in his last six games, but it wasn’t enough for an Arsenal victory as Granit Xhaka’s farcical mistake gave Burnley a 1-1 draw at Turf Moor. The Gunners desperately needed Aubameyang’s 14th goal of the season to give them a win to stay in the top-four race, but Xhaka’s miscued pass went in off Chris Wood to leave Mikel Arteta’s men nine points adrift.

DANIEL AMARTEY, KELECHI IHEANACHO (Leicester)

The Ghana defender’s first goal since December 2016 clinched a dramatic 2-1 win at Brighton. Brendan Rodgers’ team trailed after 10 minutes, but Nigerian Iheanacho equalised in the second half and Amartey won it in the 87th minute. The 26-year-old, plagued by ankle and hamstring injuries in recent years, headed home a corner to keep Leicester third.

ITALY

SIMY/ADAM OUNAS (Crotone)

Nigerian Simy continued his fine form for basement club Crotone with a brace to bring his tally to 10 Serie A goals this campaign. Simy scored from the penalty spot after 27 minutes and added a second nine minutes after the break off a rebound. Algerian international Ounas added a fourth deep in injury time as Crotone snapped a seven-match losing streak with a 4-2 win over Torino.

VICTOR OSIMHEN/FAOUZI GHOULAM/KALIDOU KOULIBALY (Napoli)

Nigerian Osimhen returned after taking a knock to his head two weeks ago, coming off the bench to score midway through the second half in a 3-1 win for sixth-placed Napoli over Bologna. Senegalese Koulibaly returned after a ban while fellow defender Ghoulam picked up a knee sprain, which forced the Algerian to limp off midway through the first half.

GERMANY

EMMANUEL DENNIS (Cologne)

The Nigeria international was controversially involved in his side’s late equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Werder Bremen. Dennis appeared to block the Bremen goalkeeper as he rose to collect a cross, allowing Jonas Hector to prod the ball into the unguarded net. “For me, the goal should not have stood,” said Bremen coach Florian Kohfeldt.

AMADOU HAIDARA (Leipzig)

The Mali international returned to the Leipzig starting XI in a crucial 3-0 win over Freiburg. Haidara, who was left on the bench against Borussia Moenchengladbach a week earlier, played the full 90 minutes as Leipzig took three key points to keep the heat on league leaders Bayern Munich.

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