ROUND-UP: Africans in Europa League last 16
The last 16 first-leg ties of the Europa League produced mixed results for African players in the competition on Thursday evening.
Africa Football Shop breaks down African players involvement in the first-leg matches.
The all Italian tie in between Fiorentina and Roma promised much but ended in a stalemate as both sides failed to take command going into the second-leg.
In-form Italian winger Mohamed Salah started for The Viola and was involved as Fiorentina took the lead through Josep Iličić. They failed to hold onto the slender lead as Malian midfielder Seydou Keita rose to head in a vital away goal with 77 minutes gone. Senegal’s Elhadji Babacar came on a sub for Fiorentina with five minutes remaining while Ivorian Gervinho entered proceedings on the 75th minute. Seydou Doumbia was an unused substitute.
Algerian Faouzi Ghoulam was in fine form as his Napoli side fought from a goal down to defeat Dynamo Moscow 3-1 in Naples. The Algerian international who has been impressive in the Europa League assisted hat-trick hero Higuian’s first goal with a delightful cross.
Demba Ba and Daniel Opare started for Besiktas but were unable to stop Club Brugge as the Belgians run-out 2-1 winners in Brugge. The Turkish side will be looking for a positive result in the second-leg if they want to secure a place in the Europa League quarter-final.
Christian Atsu was an unused sub as Everton fought back from a goal down to win 2-1 in Liverpool. Ivorian Arouna Kone was introduced in the second half. DR Congo’s Dieumerci Mbokani was a threat all night for Dynamo Kiev but was unable to gain advantage for the Ukrainians.
There was plenty of African involvement in the all Spanish encounter as Villareal hosted La Liga rivals Sevilla. Ivorian Eric Bailly & Nigerian striker Uche both played full throttle for the hosts. But it was the visitors and Cameroon skipper Stéphane Mbia who took the driving seat in this tie. Mbia got on the score-sheet with a header on the 26th minute as Sevilla won 1-3.
Moroccan Omar El Kaddouri was unable to prevent ten-man Torino going down 2-0 to FC Zenit in St. Petersburg. The Italian side have it all to do come the second-leg in Turin if they are to stay in the Europa League.