African stars in Europe back in action

Riyadh Mahrez © Gallo Images

With most leagues now back in action in Europe, African stars are once again making names for themselves at the start of 2023 with some stunning displays and match-winning performances.

Here is a round-up of some stand-out contributions in the last few days.

RIYAD MAHREZ (MANCHESTER CITY & ALGERIA)

Chelsea must be absolutely sick of the sight of Algeria star Riyad Mahrez, who has scored three goals in only four days for Manchester City against the ailing London club. Mahrez bagged the winner in a 1-0 league success at Stamford Bridge last Thursday, and followed that up with two more in a resounding 4-0 FA Cup win on Sunday. Mahrez got the ball rolling with the opener in the cup clash and then added a late penalty to put the cherry on top of an emphatic City win.

VICTOR OSIMHEN (NAPLES & NIGERIA)

A new year, but the same old Osimhen as he netted for Serie A leaders Napoli in their 2-0 success at Sampdoria that keeps the Naples club seven points ahead of second-placed Juventus in the standings. The Super Eagles forward took his tally for the season to 10 as he continues to lead the scorers charts. It was a neat finish after a fine run into the box as he connected with Mario Rui’s cross to score.

ANASS ZAROURY (BURNLEY & MOROCCO)

Young Moroccan striker Zaroury is in his first season in the English Championship with Burnley and is having a fine campaign following his switch from Charleroi to Belgium. He is clearly enjoying working under Burnley coach Vincent Kompany, and having been born in Belgium will no doubt have idolized the former national team captain growing up. He has five goals in 11 starts in the league, but bagged two strikes in the FA Cup this weekend as Burnley stunned topflight Bournemouth with a 4-2 away win. His first was a good finish at the back post after a sweeping Burnley move, and his second was a brilliant solo effort as he weaved his way into the box and provided a low finish.

KELECHI IHEANACHO (LEICESTER CITY & NIGERIA)

It has not been an easy season for Iheanacho so far in 2022/23, but he underlined his quality with a superb strike to give Leicester City victory at lower league Gillingham in the FA Cup. It was only his second goal of the campaign as he thrashed the ball into the net from a tight angle to give his side a win in a tricky cup tie against fourth-tier opposition.

MO SALAH (LIVERPOOL & EGYPT)

Salah’s goal in Liverpool’s controversial 2-2 home FA Cup draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers put his side ahead just after halftime, but was also much debated. He was clearly offside when the ball was played to him, but as it touched wolves defender Toti, he was deemed on by the officials. Nevertheless, he provided a typically clinical finish when he had the ball at his feet. Wolves then had a late goal ruled out for offside which only compounded their irritation.

PAPE SARR (TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR & SENEGAL)

Young Senegalese midfielder Sarr celebrated a first start for Tottenham Hotspur by helping his side to a 1-0 win over third-tier Portsmouth. The 20-year-old is in his first season in North London having arrived from Ligue 1 Metz, and will be delighted with a solid display and a full 90 minutes under his belt from him. He has seen more action recently with a couple of substitute appearances in the Premier League as well.

EMMANUEL GYASI (SPICE & GHANA)

Italian-born Ghana attacker scored his first goal of the Serie A season as he netted in Spezia’s 2-2 draw at home to Atalanta on Wednesday. Gyasi got the first goal after only eight minutes but despite leading 2-0 going into the final 13 minutes, Spezia had to settle for a draw. He showed excellent strength and pace to score what he hopes will be the first of many in the second half of the season.

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