African players in Europe: Guardiola hails ‘exceptional’ Mahrez
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola hailed Algeria star Riyad Mahrez as he scrambled to find any positives after a stunning 5-2 home loss to Leicester City at the weekend.
The 2016 African Footballer of the Year struck a wonder goal to give City an early lead in the Premier League clash and his boss later called him “an exceptional footballer”.
“Riyad has enormous qualities. He gives millimetre-perfect passes, likes to score goals and has a winning temperament,” said the Spaniard.
RIYAD MAHREZ (Manchester City)
Mahrez’s stunning strike on his weaker right foot into the top corner could not prevent City collapsing to a 5-2 home defeat by Leicester. He returned to the starting line-up after testing positive for coronavirus in pre-season and also set up City’s other goal for Nathan Ake on an otherwise chastening afternoon for Guardiola’s men.
CHEIKHOU KOUYATE (Crystal Palace)
The Senegalese midfielder scored in a 2-1 home loss to Everton by rising to power home a header that brought the Eagles level before Richarlison’s controversial penalty ensured Everton’s 100 percent start to the season continued. Wilfried Zaha had been Palace’s talisman in previous victories over Southampton and Manchester United, but the Ivorian was kept quiet.
AISSA MANDI (Real Betis)
Algeria defender Mandi scored against Real Madrid but could not prevent Real Betis going down 3-2 against the reigning La Liga champions. Mandi climbed above Casemiro to head in an equaliser just after half an hour and Betis took the lead two minutes later through William Carvalho, only for Madrid to surge back in the second half. Betis have enjoyed a good start to the season after winning their opening two games and sit top of the table on goal difference.
FRANCK KESSIE (AC Milan)
Kessie scored the first goal from the penalty spot just before the break in a 2-0 win for Milan at Crotone to extend their unbeaten Serie A run to 14 games. It was the 17th league goal for the Ivorian since joining from Atalanta four years ago.
OMAR COLLEY (Sampdoria)
The Gambian defender scored his first goal for Sampdoria, netting their second after 18 minutes, but the Genoa outfit threw away a two-goal lead to fall 3-2 at home to promoted Benevento.
CHRISTIAN KOUAME (Fiorentina)/ACHRAF HAKIMI (Inter Milan)
Ivorian Kouame scored the opening goal after just three minutes in a 4-3 defeat at Inter with Moroccan newcomer Hakimi coming off the bench to make his debut for Antonio Conte’s side and help the hosts secure a comeback win in their opening league match.
VICTOR OSIMHEN (Napoli)
Nigerian Osimhen got his first start for Napoli against Genoa and once again impressed in the 6-0 rout after helping lift the southerners past Parma in their season opener last week. Coach Gennaro Gattuso said: “When he attacks we find space. The players look for him, we’re very happy with how he is helping us.”
IHLAS BEBOU (Hoffenheim)
The Togolese came on for the last half hour of Hoffenheim’s shock 4-1 win over Bayern Munich as the European champions suffered their first defeat since December, ending a 23-match winning streak. The 26-year-old was brought down in the area by Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who conceded a penalty and Andrej Kramaric converted the stoppage time spot-kick.
SILAS WAMANGITUKA (VfB Stuttgart)
The Democratic Republic of Congo winger grabbed his second Bundesliga goal in as many league appearances when he equalised in Stuttgart’s 4-1 win at 10-man Mainz. The 20-year-old fired home a pass from captain Gonzalo Castro.
IBRAHIMA NIANE (Metz)
After bagging a brace last weekend when Metz won in Ligue 1 for the first time this season, the Senegalese gave his club the lead on 71 minutes away to Marseille, who salvaged a 1-1 draw through a stoppage-time goal.
BRUNO ECUELE MANGA (Dijon)/ANDY DELORT (Montpellier)
Gabonese Manga scored on the hour mark as Ligue 1 bottom club Dijon ended a run of four losses since the season began by drawing 2-2 against visiting Montpellier, whose first goal came from France-born Algerian international Delort.