Diatta, Onuachu, Samatta and Toko Ekambi light up Europe with goals
Several African stars were on song in the European competition, nevertheless, their teams suffered contrasting fortunes on Thursday evening
Karl Toko Ekambi inspired Olympique Lyon to a 2-0 win over Rangers in Thursday’s Europa League fixture.
In the tight encounter staged at the Ibrox Stadium, the Cameroon international put the Ligue 1 giants ahead in the 23rd minute – beating goalkeeper Allan McGregor with a rocket after he was teed up by Bruno Guimaraes.
Ryan Kent was close to restoring parity, but a brave save from goalkeeper Anthony Lopes ensured that the French elite division took a slim lead into the half-time break.
Steven Gerrard’s men came out stronger in the second half, however, they leaked the second goal as James Tavernier mistakenly turned the ball into his own net.
Nigeria’s Leon Balogun was on parade from start to finish, whereas his Super Eagles teammate Joe Aribo – who was named in the starting XI – was subbed off for Fashion Sakala in the 76th minute.
At the Karaiskakis Stadium, Morocco international Youssef El-Arabi and Mbwana Samatta were on target as Olympiacos secured a 2-1 triumph over Belgian side Royal Antwerp.
El-Arabi had fired the Greek side ahead in the 39th minute but that was chalked off after VAR replays for being in an offside position.
In the 52nd minute, the Atlas Lion broke the deadlock when he headed a Mady Camara’s lofted cross past Jean Butez.
That lead lasted for just 13 minutes as the visitors levelled matters through Tanzania international Mbwana Samatta who headed home Manuel Benson’s cross.
Three minutes from full time, Oleg Reabciuk nicked the winning goal by converting Marios Vrousai’s assist. Royal Antwerp’s hopes of getting a late equaliser got dashed when Jelle Bataille was shown the way out for a second caution.
At the RZD Arena, Moscow, Nigeria prospect Tino Anjorin scored his first goal in Europe as FC Lokomotiv Moscow played a 1-1 draw with Olympique Marseille.
Although the Ligue 1 side dominated ball possession, it was the hosts who had the first chance but Fedor Smolov’s fierce shot from outside the box struck the goalpost.
The Muscovites were reduced to ten men in the 58th minute as Nayaur Tiknizyan was shown the way out by referee Irfan Peljto for a foul inside the penalty area.
Cengiz Under converted the ensuing kick to give Marseille the lead in the 59th minute.
Benefitting from their opponents’ numerical disadvantage, the visitors created scoring chances. Even at that, they were very poor in the final third.
A minute from full time, super-sub Anjorin rescued Marko Nikolic’s team from defeat with his late effort.
Elsewhere, Nigeria international Paul Onuachu last-gasp effort handed Genk a 1-0 triumph over Rapid Vienna at the Allianz Stadium.