African stars impress in Europe

2015-04-20 14:13
Didier Drogba (File)

Paris - Ivorians Didier Drogba and Assane Gnoukouri impressed in two of the biggest European club clashes of the weekend.

In the twilight of an illustrious career, 37-year-old striker Drogba played the full 90 minutes for champions-elect Chelsea in a 1-0 English Premier League triumph over Manchester United.

Teenage midfielder Gnoukouri made a memorable full senior debut for Inter Milan in a goalless Serie A derby deadlock with AC Milan, displaying composure and nice touches.



The Senegal striker scored Stoke's equaliser in their come-from-behind 2-1 win at home to Southampton when he was in the right place at the right time two minutes into the second half. Steven N'Zonzi's chipped pass into the penalty area deceived Saints goalkeeper Kelvin Davis and, after the ball came back off the crossbar, Diouf hammered it into an unguarded net.


Leading the line is something he knows all about and the veteran Ivory Coast striker got through the whole 90 minutes at Stamford Bridge as leaders Chelsea beat Manchester United 1-0 to extend their advantage at the top of the Premier League table to 10 points. He almost set up a second goal when his partially blocked shot looped over United goalkeeper David de Gea only for Eden Hazard, who scored Chelsea's winner, to jab the ball against the bar from a tight angle.

YAYA TOURE (Manchester City)

Found himself making headlines, if only by association, before the kick off when his outspoken agent, Dimitri Seluk, labelled City manager Manuel Pellegrini a weak boss and accused the club's hierarchy of blaming his client for the club's problems in mounting a convincing title defence this season. On the field, it was his interception of a poor pass that led Toure to release Sergio Aguero for a free-flowing counter-attack that ended with the Argentine striker's 20th league goal of the season and City's s second in a much-needed 2-0 win that moved them within a point of third-placed Manchester United.


The Senegal star was booked after catching David Silva with an elbow in an incident 15 minutes from time that saw the City playmaker require lengthy on-field treatment before being carried off on a stretcher. City officials later said Silva had injured his collar bone after falling awkwardly. Both City manager Manuel Pellegrini and West Ham boss Sam Allardyce insisted Kouyate had not meant to injure Silva.



Mozambique midfielder Mate headed his first goal of the season as Levante picked up a valuable point in a 2-2 draw with Espanyol as they push to beat relegation. Simao rose highest to meet Moroccan El Zhar's corner to level. And after Espanyol regained the lead, Uche played a critical part in Levante's late equaliser as the Nigerian striker headed down for Victor Casadesus to thump a volley into the far corner.


None of Malaga's African stars shone as the Andalusians were beaten 3-1 by Real Madrid. Cameroonian goalkeeper Kameni made good saves from Javier Hernandez and James Rodriguez in the first half, but should have done better when Rodriguez smacked home Madrid's second after the break. Moroccan forward Amrabat, meanwhile, had half chances either side of half-time, but failed to hit the target on both occasions.



Having made his senior debut with Inter in a cameo appearance against Verona, Gnoukouri was handed his full debut in the goalless city derby against AC Milan at a packed San Siro, and did not disappoint. The 18-year-old midfielder from the Ivory Coast showed maturity beyond his years, composure on the ball and some nice touches too boot, all of which earned Gnoukouri a standing ovation from Inter fans when he was replaced by Nigerian Joel Obi after 67 minutes.


Belfodil came off the bench to replace Andi Lila on 69 minutes as crisis-hit basement side Parma trailed 2-1 at Empoli, and fired into the roof of the net only four minutes later with a controlled, close-range strike. It was the Algerian forward's maiden goal for the club in 21 appearances and although it helped secure a precious point, Roberto Donadoni's men look doomed to relegation.



The Cameroonian forward starred in a typically hard-fought derby draw with Saint Etienne. The 21-year-old's fifth goal of the season crept under goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier to give Lyon a deserved early lead in a game that ended 2-2 to put the former multiple champions back on top of the Ligue 1 table on goal difference from Paris Saint-Germain.


The Central African Republic striker, who has been trialled by various English clubs including QPR and West Ham and played for Leeds on a six-month loan deal in 2013, struck two minutes from time to earn Rennes a 1-1 draw at Monaco for his third goal of the campaign.



The Gabon winger weighed in with a goal and an assist in Borussia Dortmund's 3-0 win at home to Paderborn. The 25-year-old's cross allowed Heinrikh Mkhitaryan to header Dortmund into a 48th-minute lead before Aubameyang skipped through the Paderborn defence before burying his 55th-minute shot to claim his 13th league goal of the season.


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