A quick look at how Nigerian stars performed over the weekend in Europe
With COVID-19 outbreaks and winter break taking over most of Europe, the Super Eagles duo of Kelechi Iheanacho and Joe Aribo kept the Naija flag flying high in England and Scotland respectively.
Iheanacho was one of the few Leicester City players to leave the Etihad on Sunday with their shoulders raised high after defending champions Manchester City boxed the Foxes to a corner on boxing day.
Iheanacho created four chances, made two key passes and registered two assists in a superb creative display at the Etihad.
An impressive individual display from Iheanacho didn’t stop the Cityzens from thrashing Leicester 6-3 with Raheem Sterling helping himself to a brace on boxing day on Sunday.
Pep Guardiola’s men City looked comfortable and were flying after going into the break with a 4-0 lead. But an incredible fightback in the second half, inspired by Nigeria’s Iheanacho, who was handed just his fifth start of the season, ensured the Foxes reduced the deficit to just one goal after pulling three back within the space of 10 minutes.
The 25-year-old senior man was involved in all the goals as he set up James Maddison for the first, compatriot, Ademola Lookman, for the second before giving the visitors hope of an unlikely comeback when he netted the third to bring scores to 4-3.
He also created the most chances in the game (four), made two key passes and had three shots.
Nevertheless, despite his best efforts, his contributions were not enough as Manchester City added two late goals to seal the win in an epic nine-goal thriller.
Iheanacho has14 goals and six assists in 19 starts for Leicester City in 2021
For Iheanacho, the goal and assists mean he has now scored two goals and assisted four more in just five starts this season, taking his 2021 tally to 16 goals and six assists in 19 starts.
Meanwhile, his other compatriot at the club, Wilfred Ndidi, was benched for the entirety of the game in a surprise move by his manager, Brendan Rodgers.
At the Amex Stadium late Sunday night, Frank Onyeka was a second-half substitute as Brentford continued their free fall with a second consecutive defeat. Onyeka and Brentford were beaten 2-0 by their hosts, Brighton and Hove Albion.
The mercurial midfielder, Joe Aribo, put on a show at the Ibrox to help the Rangers to a 2-0 victory over St. Mirren.
Aribo assisted the opening goal for Scott Wright on 13 minutes before going on to create four other chances and three key passes for his teammates who failed to make them count.
Joe Aribo has been in superb form this season for Rangers (Instagram/Joe Aribo)
Aribo, 24, who now has six goals and three assists this season in the league, also helped out defensively after making 12 recoveries, winning four aerial duels and 100% of his tackles.
But he was not the only Nigerian on the pitch, talented youngster, Calvin Bassey, was at the heart of the defense for the Gers and helped them keep a clean sheet with a brilliant display.
Calvin Bassey has been omitted from the AFCON 2021 party in Cameroon.
Bassey, who will not be at the AFCON after interim boss Augustine Eguavoen ignored him, completed 93% of his passes, made four recoveries, and won one aerial duel.
Finally, in Cyprus, it was a bad day at the office for Cameroon-bound Francis Uzoho after he conceded four goals in Omonia Nicosia’s 4-2 defeat at APOEL Nicosia.
The other Super Eagles star at the club, Shehu Abdullahi, suffered a 38th-minute injury and was substituted with the game tied at 1-1. The versatile Abdullahi could miss the AFCON with his latest setback with the tournament set to kickoff in Douala on January 9, 2022.