African players in Europe: Aubameyang scores special hat-trick
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a hat-trick for Barcelona against Valencia at the weekend — the first player this century to fire a treble in La Liga, the Premier League, the Bundesliga and Ligue 1.
It was the first hat-trick claimed by a Barcelona player since Lionel Messi in February 2020, and helped Barca to a 4-1 away triumph.
Another former African Footballer of the Year, Mohamed Salah, also had cause to celebrate as he scored his 150th goal for Liverpool in all competitions.
Here, AFP Sport highlights Africans who starred in the major European leagues:
MOHAMED SALAH (Liverpool)
The Egyptian’s 150th goal breathed new life into the Premier League title race as the Reds came from behind to beat Norwich 3-1. Having trailed to Milot Rashica’s shock opener at Anfield, Jurgen Klopp’s side were searching for a winner when Salah netted in the 67th minute, evading goalkeeper Angus Gunn to slot home. He is only the 10th player to reach 150 goals in Liverpool’s history and the second fastest (232 matches) after Roger Hunt (226). Liverpool are just six points behind leaders Manchester City with a game in hand.
SADIO MANE (Liverpool)
The Senegal forward grabbed his side’s crucial equaliser against Norwich in the 64th minute with an audacious overhead kick after Kostas Tsimikas knocked on Jordan Henderson’s cross.
EMMANUEL DENNIS (Watford)
The Nigerian forward ended struggling Watford’s three-month wait for a victory with his first goal since December in their 1-0 triumph at Aston Villa. Roy Hodgson, who replaced sacked Claudio Ranieri as Watford manager, earned his first win since taking charge as Dennis headed home a cross from Senegalese Ismaila Sarr in the 78th minute.
PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG (Barcelona)
The Gabon captain notched a hat-trick on his first La Liga start for Barcelona as the Catalans thrashed Valencia at the Mestalla. Aubameyang, who joined Barca on a free transfer last month after his contract was terminated by Arsenal, scored twice in the first half while his third was fortuitous, the ball skimming off his back after a long-range strike by Pedri. The victory lifted Barca back into La Liga’s top four, above Atletico Madrid on goal difference.
CALEB EKUBAN (Genoa)
Italy-born Ekuban helped Genoa continue their positive run of form with the leveller in a 1-1 draw at fellow strugglers Venezia. The 27-year-old Ghana international equalised just before the half-hour mark to earn Genoa a fourth draw in as many matches and maintain their unbeaten status under new coach Alexander Blessin.
ERIC-MAXIM CHOUPO-MOTING (Bayern Munich)
The Cameroon forward scored his fourth league goal of the season as Bayern came from behind to beat bottom club Greuther Fuerth 4-1. Choupo-Moting was involved in the build-up to Bayern’s equaliser after Fuerth took the lead in the first half, flicking Serge Gnabry’s cross toward scorer Robert Lewandowski. He got on the scoresheet himself in injury time, tucking away a smart first-time finish.
RAMY BENSEBAINI (Borussia Moenchengladbach)
The Algeria defender gave away a penalty in the final minutes of a humiliating 6-0 defeat by Borussia Dortmund. Bensebaini brought down Marius Wolf in the box, allowing Emre Can to smash in Dortmund’s final goal from the spot.
AMADOU HAIDARA (RB Leipzig)
The Mali midfielder scored his third goal of the season in Leipzig’s emphatic 6-1 win at Hertha Berlin. Leipzig took control after the hosts went down to 10 men in the second half, and Haidara netted his side’s fifth with a piledriver into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
HABIB DIALLO (STRASBOURG)
The Senegal forward made his first start since returning to France following his country’s Africa Cup of Nations triumph and scored midway through the first half at Saint-Etienne. Strasbourg had to settle for a 2-2 draw, though, which leaves them three points off the Champions League places in Ligue 1.
MOSES SIMON (NANTES)
Nigeria’s Simon played a key role in Nantes’ brilliant 3-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain. He set up the opening goal in the fourth minute with a terrific pass and terrorised the ragged PSG defence throughout.