Nigerians in Europe Roundup: Dessers grabs headlines; Rangers Nigerians shine despite loss

Nigerians in Europe Roundup: Dessers grabs headlines; Rangers Nigerians shine despite loss

The first legs of the first, second and third-tier competitions for the best teams in Europe have taken place and Nigerian internationals gave a good impression of the talents within the Super Eagles ranks.

It started with Samuel Chukwueze's Villarreal, who put up a good fight against a rampant Liverpool at Anfield in the UEFA Champions League, but lost 2-0 on the night. Chukwueze had a quiet evening and was substituted in the 72nd minute of the match.

His compatriots in the lower tiers, however, had more memorable nights despite only one of them coming out with a win. Here is a summary of what happened with Nigerian players in European competitions.

Rangers fall to RB Leipzig despite string showing from Aribo and Bassey

Glasgow Rangers lost the first leg of their semi-final tie in the UEFA Europa League to Red Bull Leipzig despite a strong showing overall from the team especially their Nigerian contingent.

Joe Aribo and Calvin Bassey were involved in the tie while Leon Balogun was kept on the bench due to a tactical decision from manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst.

The Dutchman's plan worked for most of the tie as Rangers kept Die Roten Bullen on the back foot for most of the game. The German side, however, had most of the ball but were unable to break a resolute Rangers defence who had some heart-stopping counter-attacking opportunities which they failed to capitalise on.

Bassey was solid in defence, helping the Gers to keep Leipzig humble for most of the game. Aribo, on the other hand, was utilised in several positions throughout the ninety. He played as a winger and a centre forward and even had a spell as a wingback.

It was not until the 85th minute that Leipzig, through Angeliño, got a much-needed goal for their trip to the very tough Ibrox stadium.

Aribo and Bassey will be expected to feature in the second leg and will hope to contribute positively as Rangers search for a two-goal advantage to progress to the final of the competition.

Dessers scores his ninth and tenth goals to become Conference League highest goalscorer

Forgotten Super Eagles forward Cyriel Dessers is now the outright highest goalscorer in the maiden edition of the UEFA Conference League.

The striker, on loan at Feyenoord Rotterdam from Belgian club KRC Genk, broke the deadlock against Olympique de Marseille in the 18th minute to give his club the lead.

The first half ended 2-2 and Feyenoord were in danger of taking a draw to the harsh Orange Velodrome, when Dessers struck again in the first minute of the second half to give his team a crucial advantage going into the second leg.

Both goals were his ninth and tenth of the competition which puts him ahead as the outright top goalscorer in the maiden edition of Europe's newest club competition.

Until the game, he was tied with AS Roma's Tammy Abraham – who is also of Nigerian descent – at eight goals.

The 27-year-old attacker was substituted in the 82nd minute for Iranian international Alireza Jahanbakhsh but his goals were enough to see the Rotterdamers through and set up an interesting second leg in France.

Dessers' performance came after former Netherlands international Pierre van Hooijdonk, who also played for Feyenoord in his days, opined that he and the Nigerian share similar attributes in their playing style.

Van Hooijdonk also praised the Nigerian's influence on the Eredivisie side and stopped short of asking his former side to sign him permanently in the summer.

Lookman spares Leicester blushes against Roma

New Super Eagle Ademola Lookman was vital to Leicester City's Conference League season against Jose Mourinho's Roma on Thursday, forcing an own goal from Gianluca Mancini to set up an even fixture at the Stadio Olimpico in the second leg.

His 67th minute run into the box forced the Roma defender to miscalculate and deflect the ball into the net and cancel Lorenzo Pellegrini's 15th-minute opener at the King Power stadium sparing the Foxes blushes in their first-ever European semi-final appearance.

Kelechi Iheanacho came on for Jamie Vardy to inject some life into the game, as his excellent positioning, deceitful runs and smooth passes increased the quality of chances the English side created in the game.

Five minutes after Iheanacho was introduced to the game, Lookman broke free and received a pass from Harvey Barnes. His movement caused confusion which led to Mancini turning the ball into the back of his own net to give the Foxes another shot at the Conference League final.

It will be a tough return leg away at Rome, but the two Super Eagles proved how important they can be to their team.


This article was most recently revised and updated 6 months ago

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