Bonke eliminated; Ndidi returns; Dessers, Moses score; Onyekuru assists in Europe

By Innocent Benjamin

Over the week, a handful of Nigerians represented their football clubs in European competitions with differing fortunes. Here are the good, the bad and the ugly of Match Day 4 in Europe.

Bonke Innocent evades Mason Mount

Over the week, a handful of Nigerians represented their football clubs in European competitions: from the grandiose Champions League, to the Europa League and even the novel Conference League.

With differing fortunes, here are the good, the bad and the ugly of Match Day 4 in Europe.

UEFA Champions League

Bonke Innocent

In club football's biggest stage, Bonke Innocent, Samuel Chukwueze, and Zaidu Sanusi, were Nigeria's only representatives for match day 4.

Bonke Innocent was on hand for the full 90 minutes as Malmo were edged 1-0 by high-flying Chelsea.

Although the scoreline suggested a tight game, Malmo were total passengers all through, facing 22 shots from a ravenous Chelsea attack who got the breakthrough from fellow African, Hakim Ziyech.

Bonke himself had a difficult game in the centre of the pack. The 25-year-old defensive midfielder was dribbled past a game-high 6 times.

The result leaves Malmo rooted to the bottom of Group H with the Swedish giants now mathematically out of the flagship competition.

Bonke was dribbled past a game-high six times vs Chelsea

Samuel Chukwueze

In Group F, Samuel Chukwueze, was a 59th minute substitute in Villarreal's comfortable 2-0 home win over Young Boys. The 22-year-old who recently recovered from a six-months injury lay-off is yet to start a game since his return.

Villarreal now top a very competitive group including Manchester United (2nd) and Atalanta (3rd) heading into the last two games. 

Zaidu Sanusi

Finally in Group B, Super Eagles' left back, Zaidu Sanusi, was on hand for Porto for the entire game, as they valiantly scraped a 1-1 draw against AC Milan at the San Siro. 

At the end of 90', no player on show made more tackles than the 24-year-old's four. The point means Porto now sit 2nd, behind Liverpool and ahead of Atletico Madrid (3rd), in what has been termed the UCL's group of death. 

UEFA Europa League

Kelechi Iheanacho, Wilfred Ndidi, Ademola Lookman, Victor Moses

In the Europa League, one of the marquee fixtures was Spartak Moscow's visit to the King Power to battle inconsistent Leicester City.

In what was a fiercely contested match, Victor Moses, who supplied two assists in the first leg, gave Spartak a shock lead immediately after the break. His powerful header from Ignatov's cross was enough to beat captain Schmeichel. 

Leicester, however, responded almost immediately with a header of their own from Ghana's Daniel Amartey.

Iheancho wasn't so fortunate, as he hit the woodwork in the first-half from a penalty box scuffle. The 24-year-old had a very busy evening, completing the most dribbles and attempting the most shots, but fell short in front of goal.

Teammate, Wilfred Ndidi, also made a much-anticipated return having spent five weeks on the treatment table.

Approaching the last quarter-hour, Ndidi created the chance for Ademola Lookman that won Leciester a penalty. This golden opportunity was however squandered by Jamie Vardy. 

Victor Moses turned out the pick of the bunch, as he followed his goal with a defensive masterclass. The retired international made:

  • 5 tackles (highest) 
  • 2 interceptions (joint-highest)
  • 3 clearances
  • Most fouled player

Iheancho is currently enduring a goal-drought of 8 games in all competitions. 

Leicester City now face a race against time and quality to qualify for the knock-out rounds, as they sit 3rd in Group C, one point above basement boys, Spartak Moscow.

Both teams still have to play Victor Osimhen's Napoli, Europe's most in-form team, in the final two games.

Moses has been been directly involved in 4 of Spartak's 7 goals in the UEL

Paul Onuachu

Africa's most prolific player, Paul Onuachu, was on hand for the full 90 as Genk snatched a vital point in their 2-2 draw against West Ham but failed to find the net.

The English club have now secured qualification to the next round, while the draw ensured that Genk's survival hope now rest firmly in their hands.

Leon Balogun, Joe Aribo, Calvin Bassey

Leon Balogun scored a rare own goal which cost his side in their 1-1 draw with Danish side, Brondby.

The 33-year-old inadvertently headed into his own net from a Brondby corner to give the home side the lead against the run of play. The goal was Brondby's first Europa League goal of the season.

This proved costly in the end as Rangers not sit 3rd having yet to play unbeaten Lyon and Sparta Praha above them. 

Balogun gave Brondby their first Europa League of the season

Alhassan Yusuf, Bright Osayi-Samuel

Alhassan Yusuf of Antwerp was withdrawn at halftime after his side went 3-0 down in 29 minutes against Bright Osayi-Samuel's Fenerbeche.

Antwerp are as good as eliminated, while Fenerbeche are giving close chase to Onyekuru's Olympiacos in second.

Onyekuru

Onyekuru got his first assist for Olympiacos which gave them a 12th minute lead against Eintracht Frankfurt. It was just his second ever goal contribution for Olympiacos since he scored in August against Bratislava.

This would prove only a consolation as Olympiacos will eventually capitulate to lose 2-1.

Onyekuru had two opportunities to give his Greek club the lead but showed rustiness in front of goal. He lasted until the 71st minute, when he was withdrawn for Valbuena. Twenty minutes later, Jens Petter Hauge scored the winner against the run of play.

Europa Conference League

Cyriel Dessers, Taiwo Awoniyi

Dessers has attained hero status at Feyenoord

Cyriel Dessers was once again the saviour for Feyenoord, after he came off the bench to net the winner against Taiwo Awoniyi's Union Berlin. With the scoreline perfectly poised for a stalemate at 1-1, the 26-year-old was introduced in the 64th minute for Bryan Linssen.

Eight minutes later, he pounced on a goalkeeping error to put Feyenoord ahead for the second time in five days.

Taiwo Awoniyi, who was also subbed on in the 59th minute, couldn't do enough to alter proceedings.

While Feyenoord remain unbeaten at the top of Group E, Union Berlin are last and now need a miracle to qualify for the knock-out round.