The UEFA Europa League (UEL) Round of 32 games concluded on Thursday night and it brought about mixed fortunes for Nigerian players in action for their various clubs.
While some sealed their place in the Round of 16 after impressive first leg results, others blew away their chances of progressing despite having some level of advantage from their first leg game.
At the Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow, the Super Eagles duo of Leon Balogun and Joe Aribo played crucial roles as Rangers qualified for the Europa League Round of 16 after recording a thrilling 5-2 win over Royal Antwerp. Rangers progressed 9-5 on aggregate after winning the away tie 4-3.
Though he did not score as he did in the first leg, Aribo saw 90 minutes of action while Balogun was replaced in the 46th minute. Alfredo Morelos, Nathan Patterson, Ryan Kent, Borna Barisic (penalty) and Cedric Itten (penalty) were the goal scorers for Rangers in Thursday’s seven-goal thriller.
At the Estadio de la Ceramica, Samuel Chukwueze came on in the 66th minute to help Villarreal secure a 2-1 win over Salzburg as the Spanish side progressed into the Round of 16. Gerard Moreno scored a brace for the Yellow Submarines-the second from the penalty spot on the dot of full time.
Peter Olayinka was instrumental for Slavia Prague at the King Power Stadium, as he provided an assist in Slavia’s shock 2-0 win against Leicester City.
Olayinka helped nail the coffin for Brendan Rodgers’ men when he set up Abdallah Sima to make it 2-0 with 11 minutes left in the game. Lukas Provod had given Slavia Prague the lead four minutes into the second half of the game. Wilfred Ndidi featured for 90 minutes while Kelechi Iheanacho did not make the Leicester’s squad.
In Italy, Victor Osimhen was missing in action as Napoli beat Granada, but the 2-1 win was not enough to overturn their 2-0 first leg defeat which saw them exit the competition.
In Belgium, it was another sad tale for Nigeria’s David Okereke who was introduced with six minutes left but could not prevent Club Brugge from losing 1-0 to visiting Dynamo Kyiv. The result means Dynamo Kyiv progressed into the last 16 2-1 on aggregate after the first-leg ended 1-1.
Other results saw Arsenal edge Benfica 3-2 with a 88th minute winner from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang; Manchester United played a barren draw against Real Sociedad but progressed 4-0 on aggregate; PSV beat Olympiacos 2-1, Leverkusen lost 2-0 at home to Young Boys and Roma trounced Braga 3-1.
The 16 teams can now look forward to the draw for the next round, with ties due to be played on March 11 and 18.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...