ROUND-UP: Africans in the EPL – Week 29
Leicester City’s fairytale EPL form continued as star man Riyad Mahrez’s goal against Watford was enough to get take them five points clear at the top.
Africa Football Shop‘s EPL correspondent Ravi Palawani reports all the action.
John Obi Mikel and Baba Rahman returned to the starting team for Chelsea. Bertrand Traore kept his place in the Chelsea starting team and he did not disappoint. Playing as a central striker, Traore gave the Blues the lead when he took Nemanja Matic’s pass, turned and fired home from 20 yards out the blues were on their way to a third successive win but Mame Biram Diouf’s equalising header five minutes from time secured Stoke City a 1-1 draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
In an entertaining game at Goodison Park in which Everton were cruising to victory with a 2-0 lead against West Ham, Diafra Sakho completed a West Ham comeback as he equalized in the 81st minute. He came off the bench in place of Emmanuel Emenike to head in Payet’s teasing delivery into the bottom-left corner. Sakho was also involved as West Ham completed an unlikely turnaround, flicking Carroll’s header into the path of Payet to roll the ball underneath the legs of Joel and seal a third successive win for the Hammers.Oumar Niasse featured for Everton for the last 25 minutes while Alex Song also featured for the Hammers in the 2nd half, bringing in much needed solidity.
Yaya Toure’s Manchester City kept their tittle bid alive as they got back to winning ways with a 4-0 win against Aston Villa. Wilfried Bony made a return to the starting IX and got 60 minutes under his belt before being substituted for Raheem Sterling. Kelechi Iheanacho also featured of the home side for 20 minutes. African duo of Rudy Gestede and Jordan Ayew featured for Villa but again on the losing side.
Max Gradel made his second straight start for AFC Bournemouth after recovering from a cruciate ligament injury and was a constant threat to Newcastle. The newcomers bagged a crucial 3-1 win which boosted their hopes for survival. Seydou Doumbia was an unused substitute for the Magpies.
Sunderland travelled to Southampton, who were also looking to get their season back on track. Substitute Jermain Defoe who came on for Dame N’Doye put the visitors ahead after good work from Lamine Kone it took a Virgil van Dijk stoppage-time equaliser for 10-man Southampton to come back as a 1-1 draw denying Sunderland a win in their bid to avoid relegation. Sadio Mane kept his place in the starting 11 for Southampton while Wahbi Khazri also started for Sunderland. Nigerian born youngster Olufela Olomolawas also on the bench for Southampton.
Andre Ayew’s Swansea City continued to edge away from the EPL relegation zone with a 1-0 victory over Norwich City at the Liberty Stadium courtesy Gylfi Sirgudsson’s second half strike. With 10 minutes to go, Dieumerci Mbokani had a chance to level the score but he headed a deep cross over the crossbar. Modou Barrow was a second half substitute for the Welsh side.
A stunning goal from Leicester’s Algerian star Riyad Mahrez was the difference as the Foxes went five points clear at the top of the EPL with a 1-0 win at Watford. Leicester struggled to break down a Watford side in a low-key first half, but the deadlock was broken in style in the 56th minute when Mahrez scored his 15th league goal and his 11th away from home. Jeffery Schlupp was brought on after the first half by Claudio Ranieri while Daniel Amartey replaced goal scorer Riyad Mahrez in the 85th minute. Allan Nyom, Nordin Amrabat and Odion Ighalo were on the losing side with the latter not able to get on the score-sheet for the tenth successive game. Adlene Guedioura watched the game from Watford’s bench.
An injury to in-form striker Connor Wickham meant a start for Emmanuel Adebayor in the Palace line-up, he led the charge for Palace in the opening stages, teeing up Yannick Bolasie for a smothered seventh-minute opportunity before drawing a near-post save from Simon Mignolet then heading Pape Souare’s cross against the crossbar. Palace were on course for a first EPL triumph in 12 attempts, and their fourth in succession over Liverpool, when Joe Ledley fired in his first goal of the season in the 48th minute only for Christian Benteke to convert a penalty deep into stoppage time as Liverpool came from behind with 10 men to beat Crystal Palace 2-1. Record breaker Kolo Touremade an appearance from the bench in the 88th minute. Bakary Sako was introduced in the 82nd minute while Marouane Chamakh watched the entire match from the Eagles bench.
In the other Sunday fixture, Benin’s Stephane Sessegnon played 64 minutes for West Brom as they defeated Manchester United 1-0 at the Hawthorns. Nigerian Victor Anichebe watched proceedings from the bench.