NEWS
African players in Europe
02-20-2012
           
 
 
Nigerian Ikechukwu Uche came off the bench to bag a second-half brace as Granada whipped Real Sociedad 4-1 in La Liga at the weekend.
John Utaka was another Nigerian on target, nodding Montpellier in front eight minutes from time only for Paris Saint-German to snatch a draw in a Ligue 1 top-of-the-table showdown.
 
Ghana midfielder Sulley Muntari made a dream debut for AC Milan after a loan move from bitter rivals Inter, scoring the opening goal in a 3-1 triumph over Cesena.
  
ENGLAND
 
DIDIER DROGBA (Chelsea)
Fresh from his Africa Cup of Nations heartache, the Ivory Coast striker did his best to rally Chelsea when, before coming on as a second-half substitute, he was seen trying to gee up his team-mates in the tunnel. But sadly he couldn't make a significant impact on the field in a 1-1 FA Cup draw with Birmingham and his attempts at motivation just raised more questions about the position of Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas.
  
STEPHANE SESSEGNON (Sunderland)
 
The Benin midfielder was a lively presence in the Sunderland side that beat Arsenal 2-0 in the last 16 of the FA Cup to all but condemn the Gunners to a seventh straight season without a trophy. Sessegnon set up Sunderland's second goal 12 minutes from time when he shrugged off the challenge of Mikel Arteta and played in Sebastian Larsson, whose close-range shot bounced off the post and went in off Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
  
ALEX SONG (Arsenal)
 
The Cameroon midfielder was one of several Gunners' players who had looked as if they'd still to recover from their midweek Champions League thrashing by Italian giants AC Milan when they turned up at the Stadium of Light. Offered little cover to a struggling back four and, in common with the rest of Arsenal's midfield, he demonstrated little in the way of attacking drive.
  
KAZENGA LUALUA (Brighton)
 
The younger brother of Lomana LuaLua and a former Newcastle youth player, the Kinshasa-born winger was one of the few bright sparks for Brighton in their 6-1 FA Cup thrashing by Liverpool. He brought the Seagulls briefly level at Anfield with a devastating low free-kick from the edge of the box that flew past the right hand of Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina and into the bottom corner of the net. He then struck a shot into the side netting after thrillingly outpacing England defender Glen Johnson.
  
 
 
 
FRANCE
 
JOHN UTAKA (Montpellier)
 
Nigerian forward Utaka came close to claiming a famous victory for Montpellier in their top-of-the-table clash with Paris Saint-Germain at Parc des Princes. His 82nd-minute header from Olivier Giroud's cross put the visitors 2-1 up but Guillaume Hoarau equalised two minutes later to preserve PSG's one-point lead over Montpellier at the summit.
  
KORO KONE (Dijon)
 
Ivorian forward Kone scored his first Ligue 1 goal for Dijon to seal a 3-0 win at home to Nice. The 22-year-old, who arrived from Slovak side Spartak Trnava in January, deftly chipped Nice goalkeeper David Ospina in the game's final minute to claim his second goal in Dijon's colours after a previous effort against Istres in the French Cup.
  
MAX-ALAIN GRADEL (Saint-Etienne)
 
Gradel, a summer signing from Leeds United, sealed Saint-Etienne's 4-0 victory at home to Rennes to register his third league goal for the club, who are now just three points outside the Champions League places. The Ivory Coast international found the net in the 78th minute, pouncing on a rebound after Banel Nicolita's shot had been saved by Benoit Costil.
  
GERMANY
 
MOHAMED ZIDAN (Mainz 05)
The Egypt striker continues his flawless scoring form with his third goal in three games for Mainz since he joined from Borussia Dortmund during the winter break. The 30-year-old put Mainz ahead in the 29th minute and showed some superb finishing to equalise.
  
CEDRICK MAKIADI (Freiburg)
 
The DR Congo midfielder captained Freiburg to a gutsy goalless draw at home to Bayern Munich as his team battled hard against the Bavarian giants. Makiadi led by example with several important tackles as Freiburg, who are bottom of the table, outplayed Bayern in the first 45 minutes and the precious point means the bottom three teams are all on 18 points.
  
JOEL MATIP (Schalke 04)
 
The Cameroon midfielder scored Schalke's third goal in their 4-0 rout of
2009 German champions VfL Wolfsburg as the Royal Blues stayed fourth in the table five points behind Bundesliga leaders Dortmund. Matip netted just after the break with a well-taken strike and was a strong presence in the Schalke midfield.
  
 
 
 
ITALY
 
SULLEY MUNTARI (AC Milan)
 
The Ghana midfielder made a stunning debut for AC Milan after his loan move from cross-town rivals Inter Milan. Muntari scored the opening goal in the 3-1 win at Cesena and played a starring role in the middle of the park, earning the praise of his coach. "He did well today, not just with the goal but also in getting the ball forwards. We've made a great signing," said Massimiliano Allegri."
  
MEHDI BENATIA (Udinese)
 
The Morocco centre-back had been in poor form since his return from Africa Cup of Nations duty, making costly errors in both Udinese's 3-2 defeat at Fiorentina and their 2-1 reverse at home to AC Milan. But he was back to his more assured self in the 0-0 home draw with Cagliari, even though the same couldn't be said of all his team-mates.
  
SPAIN
 
PAPAKOULI DIOP (Racing Santander)
 
While Racing Santander managed a draw when they played Real Madrid at home earlier in the season it was always going to be a tough match at the Bernabeu and although they ended up losing 4-0, Diop gave a battling performance in midfield. The Senegalese was more effective in the first half where he was able to break up some of Real's play and lead counter-attacks while he also whipped some dangerous balls into the box.
  
IKECHUKWU UCHE (Granada)
 
Nigerian striker Uche made a big impact when he came on as a substitute and scored twice in a 4-1 win over Real Sociedad. He slotted home with practically his first touch after 60 minutes to make the score 3-1 and found the back of the net again with four minutes to go.
  
 
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