It was another eventful weekend for Nigerian footballers across Europe as some capped off their season with goals, titles and promotions while others were relegated. ABIODUN ADEWALE highlights their performances
Victor Osimhen (Napoli)
Osimhen marked his 100th appearance for Napoli in all competitions with his 30th goal of the season as Serie A champions Napoli played a 2-2 draw against Bologna on Sunday.
Napoli started in outstanding fashion with Osimhen scoring the opener in the 14th minute after capitalising on a mistake from Bologna goalkeeper Lukasz Skorupski and sent the ball home to put his side in front. He got the second goal nine minutes into the second half.
Unfortunately for Napoli, they could not hold on, as goals from Lewis Ferguson and Lorenzo De Silvestri in the 63rd and 84th minutes ensured that the game ended in a 2-2 draw.
He now has 25 goals in Serie A, four goals ahead of Lautaro Martinez on the league’s goals scorers’ chart.
Okereke, Dessers (Cremonese)
Both David Okereke and Cyril Dessers might have had their last dance with already relegated Cremosese as both players didn’t feature in their 2-2 draw against Lazio. While Okereke had a place on the bench for their penultimate Serie A game, Dessers was missing through injury.
Awoniyi, Dennis (Nottingham Forest)
In-form striker Awoniyi was on song again as Nottingham Forest rounded up their season with a 1-1 draw against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Sunday.
Awoniyi capped off an impressive run in May with a 32nd minute goal as he latched onto a long ball from Morgan Gibbs-White to expertly convert for the opener. The striker finished the season on a high with six goals in May and 10 in total in the EPL this season. With his last goal of the season, Awoniyi became the first player since the 2004/05 season to open the scoring more times in a single season for a newly promoted club.
Alex Iwobi (Everton)
For the second season running, Iwobi escaped relegation with Everton and he played a key role as the Toffees beat the drop again with a 1-0 win over Bournemouth.
Iwobi finished the season with seven assists, which is the most for the club this season. Although their safety has been confirmed, Iwobi’s desire to leave the Merseyside club has been reported before the end of the season.
Iheanacho, Ndidi (Leicester City)
In what has been a dark season for Leicester City, Nigerian duo Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfred Ndidi have been relegated to the Championship. The Foxes got the needed 2-1 win over West Ham but other results didn’t go their way.
Iheanacho was one of the few bright sparks at the club and he featured in the last game, while Ndidi was missing through injury.
Despite being on the bench for a reasonable part of the campaign, Iheanacho ended with nine goals contributions, with five goals and four assists
It’s the end of the road in the Premier League for former champions Leicester, as they return to the Championship after their 2016 fairytale Premier League win.
Aribo, Onuachu (Southampton)
Even after being relegated to the Championship, Joe Aribo and Paul Onuachu were missing in action for Southampton as the Saints played a thrilling 4-4 draw against Liverpool in their last game of the season. While Aribo was on the bench, Onuaachu was omitted from the squad due to a back injury.
Frank Onyeka (Brentford)
Midfielder Onyeka and Brentford missed out on a place in the Europa Conference League on the final day of the EPL season despite beating champions Manchester City at the Gtech Community Stadium. The Nigerian was taken off in the 81st minute.
After battling injuries at the beginning of the season and struggling for fitness and minutes, Onyeka enjoyed a fairly favourable season with the Bees.
Samuel Chukwueze (Villareal)
Chukwueze kept his place in the starting line-up as Villarreal suffered a 2-0 defeat against Rayo Vallecano on the penultimate match-day of LaLiga. The Nigerian was replaced by Gerrard Moreno in the 62nd minute. Chukwueze has been in fine form this season with six goals and five assists in LaLiga.
CALVIN BASSEY (AJAX)
Bassey was overlooked again for a place in the starting line-up for the fourth consecutive game by manager John Heitinga as Ajax suffered a 3-1 defeat against FC Twente. He was brought on four minutes to the end of the game after the hosts had already done the damage. Ajax, however, finished third in the Eredivise with 69 points from 34 matches, two points ahead of closest challengers AZ Alkmaar, who were beaten 2-1 at home by PSV to blow their chances.
BOBBY ADEKANYE (GO AHEAD EAGLES)
Forward Adekanye was impressive as usual, but Go Ahead Eagles ended the season with a 2-0 defeat against Heenreveen. Adekanye featured prominently for the Dutch side this season, scoring six goals with four assists in 31 appearances.
Victor Boniface (Royale Union SG)
In-form Boniface was a second half substitute as Royale Union SG suffered a 2-0 defeat against Antwerp in the Belgian Jupiler Pro League Championship round. The defeat puts them second behind Antwerp on the table on goals difference as both teams have 46 points. Boniface has nine goals and seven assists in the league this season.
Tolu Arokodare (Genk)
On his return from injury, striker Arokodare started as Genk beat Club Brugge 3-1 away from home in the Belgian Jupiler Pro League Championship round. Arokodare was taken off at halftime for Mbwana Samatta. The lanky striker was signed from French side, Amiens, in January to replace Paul Onuachu. He was injured not long after his signing and just returned to full action for the club.
Onyedinma, Adebayo, Osho (Luton)
While some Nigerians have bade farewell to topflight football in England, three English-born players of Nigerian descent Fred Onyedinma, Gabriel Osho and Elijah Adebayo on Saturday gained promotion with Luton Town FC after defeating Coventry City on penalties in a thrilling Championship playoffs encounter.
The duo’s contribution throughout the season proved pivotal in Luton Town’s promotion campaign.
Ashleigh Plumptre (Leicester City Women)
Super Falcons defender Plumptre was instrumental for Leicester City Women in their hard-fought 1-0 victory over Brighton, securing their place in the Barclays Women’s Super League for another season.
Olayinka, Ogbu (Slavia Prague)
Peter Olayinka bade farewell to Slavia Prague with a remarkable performance in their final game of the season against Slovacko. Olayinka’s impact was undeniable as he helped guide his team to a resounding 4-0 victory. In a heartwarming farewell gesture, Olayinka received a one-of-a-kind trophy named ‘OLAYINCUP’ to commemorate his outstanding contributions to the club. In his four-year spell, the Nigerian made 182 appearances, scoring an impressive 50 goals, 26 assists and clinching seven trophies in the process.
Fellow Nigerian Igoh Ogbu also played a part in Slavia’s stylish season-ending win.
William Troost-Ekong (Salernitana)
In his 73rd Serie A appearance, defender Troost-EKong delivered a match-winning performance with his first goal this season, scoring a dramatic 96th-minute goal to secure a hard-earned 3-2 comeback victory over Udinese at the Stadio Arechi. Having featured for Udinese between 2018-2020 and making 65 apperances, Troost-Ekong returned to the Italian topflight in January following a loan deal with an option to buy from Watford.
Ola Aina (Torino)
Aina came off the bench for the second week in a row and made a notable impact in Torino’s emphatic 4-0 win against struggling Spezia.
Ademola Lookman (Atalanta)
Lookman also made a significant contribution, albeit on the losing side, as Atalanta fell 3-2 to Champions League finalists Inter Milan. The winger has 13 goals for Atalanta this season.
Ebenezer Akinsanmiro (Inter Milan)
For the second game running, Remo Stars product Akinsamiro was listed in the match-day squad by Inter manager, Simone Inzaghi. Akinsanmiro was an unused substitute as Inter beat Atalanta 3-2. The youngster, who is till waiting for his Serie A debut, was first called into the squad for their game against Napoli last week, before he was also included in the Coppa Italia winning squad also in the past week.
Rasheedat Ajibade (Atletico Madrid Feminin)
In Spain, Ajibade won a third major title with Atletico as they edged bitter rivals Real Madrid on penalties in a historic Copa de la Reina final. The thrilling match ended 2-2 after extra time. Ajibade wasn’t among the penalty takers, but her teammates held their nerves to emerge victorious in the ensuing shootout 3-2. She was on for the entire duration of the explosive clash.
Franklin Sasere (Vaduz)
Former Sunshine Stars man Sasere showcased his incredible goals scoring prowess as he bagged four goals in Vaduz’s stunning 6-1 away triumph over Neuchâtel Xamax.
The striker recently won the Liechtenstein Cup with Vaduz and also booked a place in next season’s UEFA Europa Conference League as well.
Bamidele Yusuf (Estoril)
In Portugal’s Primeira Liga, Yusuf made a significant impact, coming off the bench for Estoril as he scored a goal in the 3-1 victory over Marítimo.
Saviour Godwin (Casa Pia)
Godwin and Casa Pia finished their first season in the Portuguese topflight with a narrow 1-0 defeat against Gil Vicente, ending their campaign in 10th place.
Funsho Bamigboye (Rapid Bucuresti)
In Romania’s Liga 1, Bamigboye put on a dazzling display, scoring a brace to help Rapid secure a remarkable 5-1 victory over FCSB.