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African players in Europe: Superb Pepe goal in vain

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A brilliant goal from Ivorian Nicolas Pepe was not enough to prevent Arsenal becoming the first club to lose twice since the English Premier League restarted after the coronavirus shutdown.

Brighton recovered to win 2-1 on England’s south coast and leave the Gunners with a little hope of a top-four finish and a place in the Champions League.

Another Premier League African to score at the weekend was Ghanaian Jordan Ayew, whose goal completed a clinical 2-0 away win for Crystal Palace over Bournemouth.

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(England NICOLAS PEPE Arsenal)

Cutting in from the right, Pepe curled a stunning effort into the top corner in the 68th minute for his seventh goal of the season in all competitions. Despite a rare memorable contribution from Pepe in a disappointing first season at the north London club for the former Lille star, Arsenal blew the lead.

JORDAN AYEW (Crystal Palace)

He scored his ninth goal of the season to clinch the Eagles’ win at Bournemouth. With Palace already leading through Luka Milivojevic, Ayew put them firmly in control with a clinical finish from Patrick van Aanholt’s pass in the 23rd minute. Ayew has now scored in his last three appearances for Palace, who are in mid-table thanks in part to the 28-year-old’s recent good run of form.

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SADIO MANE (Liverpool)

The Senegal winger was unable to make up for the absence of Egypt star Mohamed Salah as leaders Liverpool were held to a 0-0 draw by Merseyside rivals Everton. Jurgen Klopp’s side were playing their first match since March following the lockdown and were without Salah, who was an unused substitute due to fitness concerns. Mane needed to pick up the slack with Salah out, but he and his Liverpool team-mates looked rusty in a tame encounter. Liverpool are now 23 points clear at the top and could win the title against Crystal Palace on Wednesday if second-place Manchester City fail to beat Burnley on Monday.

SPAINPETER ETEBO (Getafe)

Etebo scored his first goal for Getafe but it was not enough to prevent his team being held 1-1 by struggling Eibar in La Liga. The Nigerian midfielder steered Marc Cucurella’s cross into the corner after half an hour only for Eibar to equalise on the stroke of half-time. Three games without a win have left Getafe playing catch-up in the race for a top-four spot.

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Italy MEHDI BOURABIA (Sassuolo)

Moroccan midfielder Bourabia scored for both his team and the opposition Atalanta in a 4-1 away defeat for mid-table Sassuolo. The 28-year-old accidently turned the ball into his net eight minutes before the break, but pulled back a consolation goal with a superb free-kick, his first goal this season, two minutes into injury time.

NICOLAS NKOULOU (Torino)/GERVINHO (Parma)

Cameroon international Nkoulou scored the first goal of Serie A’s return after a 103-day coronavirus shutdown in a 1-1 draw against Parma. The 30-year-old’s header was his first goal this season and he celebrated by taking a knee in tribute to American George Floyd. But Parma were soon level with Ivory Coast forward Gervinho setting up Slovak Juraj Kucka to equalise 16 minutes later.

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GERMANYIHLAS BEBOU (Hoffenheim)

The Togolese forward was gifted a simple tap-in to open the scoring after 11 minutes in Hoffenheim’s 4-0 rout of Union Berlin. It was Bebou’s sixth goal of the season and his second in as many games after also netting in the midweek win at Augsburg. The latest victory means Hoffenheim have qualified for the Europa League next season.

RAMY BENSEBAINI (Borussia Moenchengladbach)

The Algeria left-back set up Lars Stindl to score Gladbach’s final goal in a 3-1 win over bottom side Paderborn. Collecting a long pass from Matthias Ginter, Bensebaini put Stindl through to score and the victory keeps fourth-place Gladbach on course for a Champions League place.

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