African players in Europe: Aubameyang reigns in Spain

AFP , Monday 21 Mar 2022

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made a memorable Clasico debut at the weekend, scoring the first and last goals as Barcelona humiliated Real Madrid 4-0 in La Liga at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Barcelona s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrates after scoring his side s fourth goal during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Rial Madrid and FC Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, March 20, 2022. AP

The 32-year-old Gabon captain and forward has scored eight goals since a January free-transfer move from Arsenal, helping early-season strugglers Barca rise to third, 12 points behind leaders Real.

"I was very excited to come to Barcelona and do well. It is very easy when you play with such good players," he said after the rout of Real.

Here, AFP Sport highlights Africans who starred in the major European league and cup competitions:

Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)

Zaha took his tally for the season to 10 and set up Jean-Philippe Mateta's goal as Palace stormed into the FA Cup semi-finals for the first time in six seasons with a 4-0 thrashing of Everton. The Ivorian was alert to take advantage with a cool low finish for Palace's third goal after Michael Olise's looping effort came back off the crossbar.

Hakim Ziyech (Chelsea)

Next up for Palace in the last four are Chelsea after they proved too good for Championship side Middlesbrough. Morocco international Ziyech got the second goal in a 2-0 win at the Riverside as he cut inside onto his favoured left foot and arrowed the ball into the far corner for his eighth goal of the season.

Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City)

Mahrez's tally for the season rose to 22 despite starting on the bench for City's 4-1 FA Cup win at Southampton. The Algerian was rested by Pep Guardiola, but came off the bench just after the hour mark with the Saints threatening to take the tie to extra time. He rounded off the scoring by wrong-footing Fraser Forster as he whipped the ball in at the near post to set up an enticing semi-final against Liverpool.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Barcelona)

Aubameyang started the humiliation by heading in Ousmane Dembele's cross and then finished it, a scooped shot making it four in the second half. Although Barca trail Real Madrid by 12 points with nine rounds remaining, they do have a game in hand.

Ismael Bennacer (Ac Milan)

The Algeria midfielder scored on 59 minutes to give league leaders AC Milan a 1-0 win at Cagliari and a three-point advantage over Napoli in the Serie A title race. Bennacer met a Olivier Giroud lay-off with a sumptuous first-time finish from the edge of the box.

Victor Osimhen (Napoli)

Osimhen scored twice as Napoli came from behind to defeat Udinese 2-1 at home. The Nigerian equalised after 52 minutes and scored the winner 11 minutes later.

Moustapha Cisse (Atalanta)

The 18-year-old Guinean struck as a substitute on his Serie A debut to earn Atalanta a 1-0 victory away to Bologna. Cisse was signed by the club last month after being spotted playing for a team of refugees in Italy’s eighth tier.

Ishak Belfodil (Hertha Berlin)

The Algeria striker tapped home a free-kick as Hertha Berlin broke their nine-match Bundesliga winless streak with a 3-0 thrashing of Hoffenheim. With new coach Felix Magath forced to watch from his hotel after testing positive for Covid-19 and Hertha 1-0 up, Marc Oliver Kempf got on the end of a free-kick and passed to Belfodil, who scored with 63 minutes gone to claim his third goal in 21 league games this season.

Serhou Guirassy (Rennes)

The France-born forward celebrated his first call-up by Guinea with a hat-trick in Rennes’ 6-1 demolition of Metz. Guirassy has eight Ligue 1 goals this season for a team that has won five matches in a row and is challenging for an automatic Champions League spot.

Cedric Bakambu (Marseille)

The Democratic Republic of Congo international headed in a crucial late second goal within moments of coming off the bench in Marseille’s 2-1 win over Nice. He has scored three times in six league appearances since arriving on a free transfer in January and was named in his country’s squad for the World Cup play-off with Morocco.

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