African players week in Europe: Yakubu nets brace as Ba’s Newcastle suffer defeat

AFP, Monday 21 Nov 2011

Yaya Toure and Manchester City continued their seemingly relentless march towards the English Premier League title at the weekend with a 3-1 defeat of Demba Ba's previously unbeaten Newcastle.

Nigeria and Blackburn striker Yakubu

Meanwhile, two goals from Nigerian powerhouse Yakubu were not enough for Blackburn to win in a Lancashire derby at Wigan.

In Italy, Mehdi Benatia's Udinese were knocked off the top of the table after going down at Parma, but Seydou Keita was given a run out for Barcelona as the defending European champions beat Zaragoza 4-0 to keep up their pursuit of Real Madrid atop La Liga.

In France, Jonathan Pitroipa scored for Rennes in a win at Lyon, but Senegal's Souleymane Diawara endured a nightmare weekend with Marseille.



The Ivory Coast midfielder was in excellent form as City remained out in front at the top of the Premier League with a 3-1 win over Newcastle. Pushed forward by manager Roberto Mancini, It was from Toure's volley, which struck Ryan Taylor's hand, that City earned the penalty, scored by Mario Balotelli, that put them 1-0 up four minutes before half-time.

DEMBA BA (Newcastle)

The Senegal striker suffered a frustrating afternoon in what was Newcastle's first Premier League defeat of the season. He saw one good shot well saved by City keeper Joe Hart and then missed another chance when he headed Yohan Cabaye's corner wide.

GERVINHO (Arsenal)

The Ivory Coast forward was one of three Gunners players who had shots cleared off the line by Norwich centre-back Russell Martin but Arsene Wenger's side still emerged 2-1 winners from their trip to Carrow Road. Always a threat on the wing, Gervinho also had a header and a shot saved by keeper John Ruddy in what was his fourth successive match without a goal.

AIYEGBENI YAKUBU (Blackburn Rovers)

The Nigeria striker was hugely influential for Rovers, scoring twice and playing a controversial role in another as they managed a 3-3 draw away to fellow strugglers Wigan. Only 70 seconds had elapsed when Yakubu, from Steven Nzonzi's pass, chipped Wigan keeper Ali Al Habsi to make it 1-0. Rovers were 2-1 down heading towards the hour mark when Yakubu appeared to have taken a short corner, only to make no contact at all. Morten Gamst Pedersen then took the corner to himself to set up an equaliser for Junior Hoilett which was allowed to stand. Then, in the ninth minute of stoppage time, Yakubu made it 3-3 from the penalty spot after Blackburn keeper Paul Robinson, charging forward, was fouled in the box following a corner.



Burkina Faso winger Pitroipa has helped turn previously staid Rennes into one of Ligue 1's most exciting attacking forces this season and he was at it again on Friday, scoring the equaliser for the Breton side against Lyon. Rennes went on to win the game 2-1 to inflict a first home league defeat on Lyon since September last year and climb up to fourth place in the table.

YANNICK SAGBO (Evian-Thonon-Gaillard)

The 23-year-old French-born Ivorian international has been in excellent form in recent weeks and he carried that into Saturday's 2-1 home win against Lorient that allowed the promoted club to extend their unbeaten run to four matches. Sagbo scored the opening goal from the penalty spot to take his tally for the season to five and then laid on the winner for Daniel Wass with an inch-perfect first-time cross from the right wing.


Last week, veteran Senegalese international defender Diawara signed a contract extension, tying him to Marseille until the summer of 2014, by which time he will be 35. However, he endured a difficult weekend, turning a cross from compatriot Souleymane Camara into his own net to hand Montpellier a 1-0 win against OM. While Montpellier move joint top with the win, the defeat leaves Marseillem in 10th, 12 points adrift.


The revelation of the early weeks of the French season, 23-year-old Burkina Faso international midfielder Traore scored for the seventh time this season to give Auxerre the lead at Valenciennes. It was his first goal since late September, but it wasn't enough for his team to take anything from the game, as Valenciennes came back to win 2-1, leaving Auxerre just two points above the relegation zone.


DIDIER YA KONAN (Hanover 96)

Ivory Coast striker was sent off in the 58th minute against Wolfsburg for unsporting conduct after throwing the ball at Japan midfielder Makoto Hasebe with his team 3-1 down, before they finally lost 4-1.

He will miss his team's next league game against strugglers Hamburg.


Congo midfielder Makiadi and Senegal striker Cisse both picked up yellow cards in their teams dramatic 2-2 draw at home to Hertha Berlin.

Freiburg's replacement striker Stefan Reisinger came off the bench to score both goals and netted the equaliser five minutes into injury time to rescue the point which leaves his team 17th in the league.



The Morocco centre-back made a stunning goal-line block with his body, expertly avoiding handling the ball, to deny Sebastian Giovinco what seemed a certain goal. But Benatia could not prevent his side falling to a 2-0 defeat at Parma and was absent without leave when Jonathan Biabiany opened the scoring with a free header six yards out from a corner. That defeat meant Udinese lost top spot in Serie A and now sit fourth.


The Sierra Leone midfielder suffered a torrid evening as his side fell to a 2-1 defeat at Roma. Lecce had only 32 percent of possession meaning that Strasser spent most of his time chasing shadows. To make matters worse he was booked in the last minute for a poor challenge on Daniele De Rossi.


SEYDOU KEITA (Barcelona)

Keita was brought into the Barcelona midfield alongside Xavi Hernandez against Zaragoza at the weekend as coach Pep Guardiola sought to rest players following the international matches, and the Malian did not let him down with an assured display. A steady player, Keita provided the defensive cover for the forwards who hit the headlines in a 4-0 victory. Keita broke up Zaragoza's possession in midfield, instigated Barcelona's own attacks and got forward himself on occasions.


Espanyol have an added steel to their side this season and lot of that is down to the contribution of Romaric in midfield. They are among a cluster of sides on the fringes of the European places and produced another solid performance at the weekend where they drew 0-0 away to Real Sociedad. Romaric has contributed strength and experience but he also has the ability to get forward and cause problems for the opposition defence.

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