Africans in the Europa League – Matchday 2
Khouma Babacar continued his fine Europa League form when Fiorentina played Belenenses in Portugal. On the other side of the continent, Kehinde Fatai put Apoel Nicosia to the Sword.
Fiorentina were already a goal up against Belenenses when Senegal forward Babacar doubled their lead just before half-time, his shot took a slight deflection and settled into the net. His side went on to win 4-0 and are second in Group I.
Three Africans played a key role in the five-goal thriller between Lazio and Saint-Etienne. Senegal defender Moustapha Bayal Sall turned the ball in from a set piece to give Saint-Etienne the lead. In the 22nd minute Nigeria midfielder, Ogenyi Onazi struck a powerful shot past Stephane Ruffier to equalise. The score was 2-1 to Lazio when Sall was sent off because of a second yellow card. Lazio would go on to win 3-2, with Saint-Etienne pulling one back through Kevin Monnet-Paquet. Ivorian Coast midfielder Ismael Diomande was credited with the assist.
Senegalese midfielder Oumar Niasse put Lokomotiv Moscow ahead in the 35th minute as they cruised to a 2-0 win against Skenderbeu Korce at home.
Morocco wide-man Nabil Dirar whipped in a fine cross for Stephan El Shaarawy to head in during Monaco’s 1-1 home draw against Tottenham Hotspur.
Kehine Fatai, a former Nigeria Under-20 striker scored the opener for Sparta Praha as they beat Apoel Nicosia 2-0 at home.
Koka scored the only goal in Sporting Braga’s 1-0 home win against Groningen. The Egypt striker finished coolly in the 5th minute to earn the victory.
Sion grabbed a shock 1-1 away draw against a second-string Liverpool side. After going behind early Ivory Coast midfielder Xavier Kouassi’s long ball was chested down by Ebenezer Assifuah. The ex-Ghana Under 20 striker then finished through the legs of Simon Mignolet to register his first goal in the Europa League.
Finally, Nigerian attacker Paul Onuachu scored the second goal in Midtjylland’s 3-1 away win against Club Brugge. The Danish club are second in Group D, level on points with Napoli.
All in all it was a strong week for Africans in the UEFA Europa League.