African players in Europe: Ighalo maintains goal-per-start record
Nigerian Odion Ighalo continued a record of scoring every time he starts for Manchester United by netting in a 2-1 FA Cup quarter-final win away to Norwich City at the weekend.
Apart from four goals in four starts, the on-loan forward also scored once after coming off the bench for a total of five goals in 11 appearances.
Ivorian Nicolas Pepe was the other African scorer in the last-eight stage, putting Arsenal ahead for the first time in a 2-1 win at Sheffield United.
ODION IGHALO (Manchester Utd)
He scored the opening goal and a foul on him led to a Norwich City player being red-carded as United won 2-1 to book an FA Cup semi-final clash with Chelsea. Ighalo, who joined the Red Devils temporarily last January from Shanghai Shenhua, netted from close range and when he was later hacked down on the edge of the box, Timm Klose got his marching orders.
NICOLAS PEPE (Arsenal)
Pepe scored his eighth Arsenal goal, from the penalty spot, as the Gunners moved into the FA Cup semi-finals with a 2-1 win at Sheffield United. With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang rested by Mikel Arteta, the Ivorian took responsibility from the spot and confidently dispatched the ball low into Dean Henderson’s left-hand corner.
MOHAMED SALAH/SADIO MANE (Liverpool)
Egyptian Salah and Senegalese Mane were both on the scoresheet as Liverpool thrashed Crystal Palace 4-0 as the Reds ended a 30-year wait to be crowned champions of England. The Egyptian showed why his presence was so badly missed in a 0-0 draw at Everton last weekend with a cool control and finish for Liverpool’s second goal before Salah teed up Mane to round off the scoring. Both have played huge parts in Liverpool’s title triumph and still have the Golden Boot to challenge for. Salah has 17 goals, two behind Premier League top scorer Jamie Vardy, while Mane is on 15.
JOSEPH AIDOO (Celta Vigo)
Ghana defender Aidoo helped Celta snatch a 2-2 draw at home to Barcelona in what could prove a pivotal moment in the title race. Aidoo was among those in charge of marshalling Lionel Messi, who teed up Luis Suarez’s opener but was unable to score his 700th career goal for club and country. Celta’s draw, earned after a late free-kick from Iago Aspas, allowed Real Madrid to move two points clear at the top of La Liga.
Ivory Coast forward Gervinho opened the scoring for Parma against Inter Milan, connecting with a Juraj Kucka cross to finish off from close range after 15 minutes for his sixth league goal this season. The 33-year-old then set up Andreas Cornelius, but the Danish striker missed in front of goal and third-place Inter hit back with two late goals to win.
MUSA BARROW (Bologna)
Gambia forward Barrow sparked Bologna’s revival after a four-match winless run with a 2-1 victory over Sampdoria. Barrow converted a penalty after 72 minutes for his fourth goal since joining Bologna on loan from Atalanta in January. The 21-year-old was then involved in the buildup as Riccardo Orsolini tapped in the second two minutes later.
JEREMIE BOGA/MEDHI BOURABIA (Sassuolo)
Ivory Coast international Boga came off the bench at half-time and bagged a brace as Sassuolo fought back to salvage a 3-3 draw at the death at home against Hellas Verona. Boga connected with a Gregoire Defrel cross to pull Sassuolo level at 1-1 after 53 minutes. A defensive error involving Moroccan Medhi Bourabia allowed Verona to move ahead again, but Boga grabbed a second on 77 minutes for the former Chelsea midfielder’s 10th goal this season.
ANTHONY UJAH/SULEIMAN ABDULLAHI (Union Berlin)
Nigeria striker Ujah, 29, tapped home from a goalmouth scramble to put his side on the road to a 3-0 victory over Fortuna Duesseldorf, who were relegated by the result on the last day of the Bundesliga season. Fellow Nigerian Abdullahi, 23, came off the bench to score his first Bundesliga goal in only his sixth appearance on 90 minutes. Ujah said his goal had special meaning as it helped former club Werder Bremen, who hammered Cologne 6-1, qualify for the relegation/promotion play-offs.
ACHRAF HAKIMI (Borussia Dortmund)
Morocco international Hakimi made his final appearance for Dortmund when he came off the bench for the second half of a 4-0 loss at home to Hoffenheim. After two years on loan from Real Madrid in Dortmund, the 21-year-old has drawn reported interest from Inter Milan and could be sold for around $45 million (40 mn euros). The versatile Hakimi has impressed this season with five Bundesliga goals and 10 assists.