African players in Europe: Mahrez scores after rare start
Record Manchester City signing Riyad Mahrez took advantage of a rare starting place to score as the Premier League leaders coasted to a 4-1 FA Cup last-16 win over Newport County at the weekend.
The Algerian, who cost City $77 million (68 million euros) when he moved from Leicester City in July, has not begun a league match this year due to the wealth of talent at the club.
City manager Pep Guardiola apologised to Mahrez before the cup tie for not starting him more often and the winger responded with an impressive performance at fourth-tier Newport.
RIYAD MAHREZ (Manchester City)
In a goalless first half, Mahrez went close to breaking the deadlock when his firm strike was well-saved by goalkeeper Joe Day. But City’s class told in the second half and, with Guardiola’s men already two goals ahead, Mahrez rounded off the win deep into stoppage time with a well-struck shot.
JEFFREY SCHLUPP (Crystal Palace)
An early goal from the Ghana international set up top-flight Palace for a 2-0 win at third-tier Doncaster Rovers. “It’s a special tournament and, hopefully, with the luck of the draw we might get a lesser team to have a better chance of getting through (to the final),” Schlupp told the BBC.
YVES BISSOUMA (Brighton)
The Mali midfielder produced an impressive all-round display as Brighton won 2-1 at home to second-tier club Derby County. Bissouma set up the Seagulls’ opener when his precise cut-back was volleyed in by French forward Anthony Knockaert. Bissouma also had a central role as Brighton made it 2-0 in first-half stoppage-time. He was unlucky to see his excellent curling shot hit the inside of the post but the ricochet fell kindly for Jurgen Locadia, who knocked in the rebound.
SAID BENRAHMA (Brentford)
While fellow Algeria forward Mahrez ended up on a winning side, it was a different story for Benrahma as his Brentford team were beaten 4-1 at second-tier rivals Swansea despite going 1-0 up. Benrahma, who had a role in the build-up to that opening goal, led the line well in the first half, but the ball did not break for him in a match that the west London side finished with 10 men after Ezri Konsa was sent off.
KARL TOKO EKAMBI (Villarreal)
Toko Ekambi helped Villarreal to a surprise victory over Champions League hopefuls Sevilla by scoring in a 3-0 victory. The Cameroonian forward sidefooted into an open net after a brilliant Carlos Bacca backheel to give his side a two-goal lead at the Estadio de la Ceramica.
RYAD BOUDEBOUZ (Celta Vigo)
Boudebouz endured a debut to forget for Celta as the Algerian midfielder was shown a straight red card in their 4-1 defeat by Levante. Boudebouz, who joined on loan from Real Betis in January, was sent off in the 49th minute with his side already 2-0 down for thrusting his studs into the thigh of Borja Mayoral.
AFRIYIE ACQUAH, ISMAEL BENNACER (Empoli)
Ghanaian midfielder Acquah scored the second goal as struggling Empoli got a boost with a 3-0 win over Sassuolo. Algerian midfielder Bennacer set up Rade Krunic for the opener after 34 minutes and three minutes later Acquah added a second for his first goal since moving from Torino last year.
KALIDOU KOULIBALY (Napoli)/OLA AINA (Torino)
Senegal defender Koulibaly blocked a goalbound effort from Tomas Rincon just before the break as Napoli were held to a 0-0 draw at home by Torino to slip 13 points behind leaders Juventus. On-loan Chelsea defender Aina almost scored his second goal in as many games for Torino.
ISHAK BELFODIL (Hoffenheim)
The Algeria forward backed up netting twice against Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund last weekend by scoring with his shoulder in a 3-0 home win over Hanover 96. Belfodil enjoyed a lucky bounce when he mistimed his header at the end of a Kerem Demirbay free-kick, as the ball deflected off his shoulder and into the net for his seventh league goal this season.
SALOMON KALOU (Hertha Berlin)
After scoring a stunning solo goal in the last round, Ivorian Kalou turned provider, laying on a pinpoint assist for Davie Selke’s opener against Werder Bremen. After collecting a long-range pass from Ondrej Duda, Kalou barrelled into the box to square for Selke to put the home side ahead in a match that finished 1-1.
NICOLAS PEPE (Lille)
Jose Mourinho was in attendance at the Stade Pierre Mauroy to watch the Ivorian forward in action after a fine season in which he has already scored 16 Ligue 1 goals. Pepe failed to find the net against Montpellier, though, as Lille were held to a 0-0 draw.
STEPHANE BAHOKEN (Angers)
The 26-year-old Cameroonian forward netted his third goal in five league games from the penalty spot in Angers’ 3-0 win over Nice. Bahoken’s tally of eight Ligue 1 goals this term is already the highest of his career.
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