African players week in Europe: Nigeria's Uche reigns in Spain with hat-trick

AFP, Monday 12 Mar 2012

Nigerian striker Kalu Uche was the African star in Europe with a hat-trick as Espanyol demolished Rayo Vallecano 5-1 in La Liga at the weekend

Kalu Uche
Espanyol’s Nigerian striker Kalu Uche

Mohamed Zidan continued an amazing scoring run in Germany with the Egyptian netting in each of his six games for Mainz since a transfer-window switch from Borussia Dortmund.

African Ligue 1 scorers included strikers Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Gabon and Dennis Oliech of Kenya and Ivory Coast defender Siaka Tiene for leaders Paris Saint-Germain.

ENGLAND

DIDIER DROGBA (Chelsea)

The Ivory Coast striker scored his eighth goal of the season to clinch his side's 1-0 win over 10-man Stoke at Stamford Bridge. Drogba netted for the second time in his last three appearances with a neat turn and finish from Juan Mata's pass in the 68th minute. That was enough to give interim manager Roberto Di Matteo his second successive win and keep Chelsea in the race to qualify for next season's Champions League.

YAYA and KOLO TOURE (Man City)

The Ivorian brothers endured a frustrating time as City surrendered first place in the Premier League with a surprise 1-0 defeat at Swansea. Centre-back Kolo was unable to prevent Luke Moore scoring an 83rd-minute winner, while midfielder Yaya was reportedly involved in a half-time argument with team-mate Mario Balotelli.

EMMANUEL ADEBAYOR (Tottenham)

The Togo striker was hauled off in the 54th minute as Spurs crashed to their third successive defeat in a 1-0 loss at Everton. Adebayor was well below his best and the rest of his Tottenham team-mates were little better.

AYEGBENI YAKUBU (Blackburn)

The Nigeria forward delivered a dynamic display as Rovers boosted their survival bid with a 2-0 win at fellow strugglers Wolves. Although Yakubu didn't get on the scoresheet, he provided the assist for David Hoilett's second goal as Blackburn moved three points clear of the relegation zone.

FRANCE

SIAKA TIENE (Paris Saint-Germain)

Ivory Coast left-back Tiene scored his first Paris Saint-Germain goal to set Carlo Ancelotti's side on the way to a 2-1 win at Dijon that kept them top of the table. Tiene tapped home a cross from Guillaume Hoarau to break the deadlock in the 49th minute, eight minutes after his Malian team-mate Mohamed Sissoko had been sent off.

DENNIS OLIECH (Auxerre)

Kenya striker Oliech claimed his ninth league goal of the season as Auxerre secured a 1-1 draw at Rennes that enabled them to climb off the foot of the table and move within three points of safety. Oliech struck in the 10th minute, seizing on a loose ball to slam a low shot into the bottom-left corner.

PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG (Saint-Etienne)

One of the stars of the Africa Cup of Nations with co-hosts Gabon, Aubameyang registered his 11th goal of the Ligue 1 campaign in a 2-1 win at Valenciennes that took Saint-Etienne within a point of the Champions League places. Saint-Etienne had fallen behind to a goal from Cameroon forward Vincent Aboubakar in the 69th minute but Aubameyang tapped in a low cross four minutes later to equalise.

GERMANY

MOHAMED ZIDAN (MAINZ 05)

The Egypt striker is being dubbed the "Messi of Mainz" after he drilled home a free-kick on 22 minutes to seal his team's 2-1 win over Nuremberg and keep up his impressive run of having scored in each of his six games for his new club. Zidan, 30, joined Mainz in January from German league leaders Borussia Dortmund and mid-table Mainz have lost only once in their last seven games.

CEDRICK MAKIADI (Freiburg)

The Democratic Republic of Congo midfielder captained his team to a goalless draw against third-place Borussia Moenchengladbach to prove Freiburg are not to be written off despite being second from bottom of the German league with nine games left. The 28-year-old was part of a strong midfield display from Freiburg which stymied the impressive Gladbach attack of Dortmund-bound Marco Reus and striker Mike Hanke, who have scored 19 Bundesliga goals between them.

ITALY

BOUKARY DRAME (Chievo)

The Senegalese left-back had a quiet game in Chievo's 2-0 defeat at home to Inter Milan. France-born Drame was largely tidy in possession but guilty several times of being too unwilling to push forward down the flank when Chievo were attacking.

SULLEY MUNTARI (AC Milan)

The Ghana midfielder was once again at the heart of Milan's midfield in the 2-0 win over Lecce that took the champions four points clear at the top. Muntari took the opportunity to get forward often and was in a position to have several shots at goal, without coming close to scoring.

MEHDI BENATIA (Udinese)

Udinese's centre-back was a combative presence in the 1-0 defeat to then rock-bottom Novara. Benatia could not be faulted for Jeda's winner and even had a hand in what should have been an equaliser. Benatia's blocked shot was headed home by Maurizio Domizzi but then wrongly disallowed for a non-existent offside. By the end of the game Benatia was almost playing as a makeshift forward as Udinese desperately sought an equaliser.

SPAIN

AROUNA KONE (Levante)

The Ivory Coast attacker showed energy and a willingness in attack as Levante lost 1-0 away to Malaga and fell out of the Champions League places. After the home side had taken an early second-half lead, Kone went close to equalising with a toe poke past the goalkeeper which went the wrong side of the post.

KALU UCHE (Espanyol)

The Nigerian striker produced a match-winning performance by netting a hat-trick in Espanyol's 5-1 victory over Rayo Vallecano. Uche joined Espanyol in the January transfer window and nodded his team in front after just three minutes, got a second just before half-time with a delightful strike over the goalkeeper into the top corner and completed his treble mid-way through the second half.

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