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African players in Europe: Promoted Mahrez punishes United


Paris (AFP) – Algeria captain and Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez capitalised on being promoted to the starting line-up against Manchester United by scoring twice in a 4-1 Premier League triumph at the weekend.

A substitute in the previous two league games, the 2016 African Footballer of the Year rewarded manager Pep Guardiola with the last two City goals in the derby romp at the Etihad Stadium.

It was a welcome change of fortune for the 31-year-old Paris-born star, who had netted just once in 15 previous matches against fierce rivals United.

Here, AFP Sport highlights Africans who starred in the major European leagues:

ENGLAND

RIYAD MAHREZ (Manchester City)

Mahrez starred in City’s 4-1 demolition of United, scoring two goals to take his season’s tally to 21 in all competitions. His first goal was a superb half-volley from the edge of the area, after he was found by a corner from Kevin De Bruyne, and he scored another late on to complete the rout.

WILFRIED ZAHA (Crystal Palace) 

Ivory Coast international Zaha scored a penalty for Palace in their 2-0 win at Wolves, awarded for a foul by Max Kilman on Ghanaian Jeffrey Schlupp. Zaha’s ninth league goal of the season helped lift Palace into the top half of the table.

SADIO MANE (Liverpool) 

Liverpool forward Mane, who won the Africa Cup of Nations with Senegal last month, was on target against West Ham midway through the first half at Anfield, finishing Trent Alexander-Arnold’s low cross-cum-shot. The three points kept Jurgen Klopp’s men hot on the heels of leaders Manchester City.

SPAIN

EDUARDO CAMAVINGA (Real Madrid)

Camavinga, 19, scored his second goal for Real Madrid in a 4-1 win over Real Sociedad. The Angola-born France midfielder equalised before half-time with a superb long-range shot fizzing into the corner. Carlo Ancelotti said Camavinga is “an option” to start in the Champions League against Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday, with Toni Kroos battling a hamstring injury. 

ITALY

EMMANUEL GYASI (Spezia)

Ghana forward Gyasi had a golden chance to earn Spezia what would have been a deserved draw at Juventus just after half-time, but could only aim a weak header at Wojciech Szczesny with the goal at his mercy. Spezia sit four points above the Serie A relegation zone after the 1-0 defeat.

KALIDOU KOULIBALY (Napoli)

Normally in the headlines for his imperious defensive performances, Senegal captain Koulibaly’s most notable act during Napoli’s 1-0 defeat to Serie A title rivals AC Milan was to clatter into match-winner Olivier Giroud and give him a bleeding gash which almost forced the French forward off the field midway through the first half. 

GERMANY

TAIWO AWONIYI (Union Berlin)

Forward Awoniyi has forced his way into Nigeria’s squad thanks to an excellent season in front of goal. But the 24-year-old former Liverpool youngster scored at the wrong end as Union slipped to a 1-0 defeat at VfL Wolfsburg. The capital club need Awoniyi to start finding the right net if they are to arrest their slump and maintain a Champions League push.

FRANCE 

LEBO MOTHIBA (Troyes)

The South African scored his first goal since December 2019 as he came off the bench to wrap up a 2-0 victory over Bordeaux from the penalty spot. Mothiba, 26, was loaned out by Strasbourg in January after signing an extension with the club until 2024 following two years wrecked by injury.

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