African players week in Europe: Ivorian stars Toure, Drogba score key goals

AFP, Tuesday 8 May 2012

Ivorian striker Didier Drogba scored Chelsea's second goal during the FA Cup final football match against Liverpool at Wembley

Chelsea's Drogba celebrates after scoring against Liverpool during their FA Cup final soccer match at Wembley Stadium in London (Photo: Reuters)

Yaya Toure took Manchester City to the brink of the English Premier League title and Didier Drogba helped Chelsea lift the FA Cup on a wonderful weekend for the Ivory Coast stars.

Reigning African Footballer of the Year Toure struck twice in the closing stages to earn City a 2-0 triumph at Newcastle, and a home win over QPR this Sunday should clinch a first championship in 44 years.

Drogba, a previous winner of the highest African individual football honour, relishes playing at Wembley Stadium with his goal in the 2-1 win over Liverpool the eighth in as many appearances at the home of English football.





The Ivory Coast midfielder fired his team within touching distance of the title as he netted twice in a vital 2-0 win at Newcastle. With 70 minutes gone, City were struggling to break down Newcastle as they looked for the win that would keep them top of the table. But Toure came to their rescue with a brilliant strike from the edge of the area before doubling their lead in the 89th minute from close range.




The Ivory Coast forward became the first man to score in four FA Cup finals as his second-half strike put Chelsea on course for a 2-1 win over Liverpool at Wembley. Drogba collected Frank Lampard's pass and hit a low shot past Jose Reina from just inside the penalty area in the 52nd minute. Drogba has now won four FA Cups with Chelsea.



The Togo striker kept his nerve to score a crucial penalty that earned his side a 1-1 draw at Aston Villa. Trailing 1-0 and down to 10 men after Danny Rose's red card, Spurs rescued a point when Adebayor stroked home a 62nd-minute spot-kick after Richard Dunne fouled Sandro. Adebayor's goal means Tottenham will clinch fourth place with a win over Fulham in their final game.


ALEX SONG (Arsenal)

The Cameroon midfielder provided an assist for Robin van Persie's equaliser against Norwich, but the Gunners were forced to settle for a 3-3 draw at the Emirates Stadium. Arsenal were trailing 2-1 in the 72nd minute when Song set up van Persie, who then scored again to put the hosts ahead before Steve Morison grabbed a late equaliser.



The Mali midfielder gave a dominant display as the Cottagers beat Sunderland 2-1 at Craven Cottage. Former Real Madrid star Diarra won the free-kick that led to Clint Dempsey's first-half opener as he underlined his impressive transition to English football in his first season with Martin Jol's side.




Cameroonian striker Aboubakar finished on the losing side despite scoring one goal and setting up another in Valenciennes' 4-3 defeat at home to title hopefuls Paris Saint-Germain. The 20-year-old broke the deadlock in the eighth minute with a shot that deflected in off PSG centre-back Alex before creating a goal for Senegalese team-mate Remi Gomis three minutes later with a low effort that was parried by PSG goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu into Gomis' path. Gomis' goal put Valenciennes 2-0 up but PSG stormed back to secure a victory that sent them above Montpellier at the top of the table.


MOHAMED SISSOKO (Paris Saint-Germain)

Former Mali midfielder Sissoko struggled to get a grip on the match in his side's topsy-turvy encounter at Valenciennes. After a largely anonymous performance, the former Liverpool and Juventus man was replaced by Mathieu Bodmer in the 77th minute.




DIDIER YA KONAN (Hanover 96)

The Ivory Coast striker scored the winner in Hanover's 2-1 victory over Kaiserslautern which gave his team the last available Europa League qualification place on the final weekend of the Bundesliga season. The 28-year-old's 71st-minute header settled Hanover's battle with 2009 German champions Wolfsburg for seventh place.


ANIS BEN-HATIRA (Hertha Berlin)

Tunisia's midfielder netted twice in Hertha Berlin's remarkable 3-1 home victory over 10-man Hoffenheim which put them in the German league relegation play-off at the expense of relegated Cologne. The 23-year-old Ben-Hatira fired home an early free-kick, then added the second with 12 minutes left before Berlin's Brazilian midfielder Raffael enjoyed a simple tap home in the 92nd minute to seal victory.




The Guinea midfielder scored the winner for Stuttgart in their extraordinary 3-2 win over Wolfsburg as the hosts came from 2-0 down with three goals in six second-half minutes. Stuttgart roared back with two goals before Traore hit the winner 11 minutes from time after firing through Russ' legs.




The Germany-born Ghana attacking midfielder did not have a great game but he did have a hand in both Milan goals in their 4-2 defeat to Inter. He won the penalty for Zlatan Ibrahimovic's opener, although in fairness it was a mistake by the referee as Inter goalkeeper Julio Cesar clearly won the ball in his challenge with Boateng. But the former Portsmouth stand-out then played the pass to set up Ibrahimovic's second, although he had little influence apart from those moments.



The Ghana midfielder seemed to be on a mission to try to prove his former employers wrong in the Milan derby but succeeded only in getting himself worked up. After a good start, Muntari eventually fell out of favour at Inter Milan and was sent out on loan last season and is again on loan at Milan. But in his eagerness to show Inter what they're missing, he lost lucidity and was perhaps lucky not to be booked for a bad challenge on Wesley Sneijder.



The Moroccan brought aggression and grit to a solid Fiorentina display in which they ensured Serie A survival with a 1-0 win at Lecce. Kharja was particularly effective in launching counter-attacks although there were few chances to make a mark in a war of attrition.




SEYDOU KEITA (Barcelona)

Malian Keita continued in the starting line-up in the Catalan derby against Espanyol which Barca won 4-0 and did an effective job until replaced with 25 minutes to go. He did have one chance to score midway through the first half when Espanyol keeper Cristian Alvarez reacted quickly to smother the ball.



It was a special night for retired Mali striker Kanoute as he came on to score the final goal in a 5-2 victory over Rayo Vallecano and thanked the fans after his last home game for the team. He has been a huge success at Sevilla during the past five seasons with his all-round play, using his ability to hold the ball and bring in other players as well as scoring himself.

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