In the 85th minute, Oghenekaro Etebo dropped unto his knees as his heat map was displayed – he had covered every blade of grass on the Estadio de Gran Canaria as Las Palmas strove to hold on to a 1-1 result against La Liga leaders, Barcelona.
After six minutes of added on time, Etebo in is fifth game for the Spanish side had achieved what only five other teams had achieved this season against this Lionel Messi-led Barcelona – a draw!
Messi scored from a free kick in the 21st minute while Jonathan Calleri got the equaliser three minutes into the second half from the penalty spot.
The commentators ran out of euphemisms for the Super Eagles midfielder. They said the Nigerian was always positive on the ball, receiving and moving forward through the Barcelona press; and surely the 22-year-old should be proud.
Commentator: “Etebo has a heat map that looks like a toddler has been left with a crayon…not a place on the pitch has not been covered.”
On Twitter, David Cartlidge wrote, “Word for Etebo too. The club essentially presented him in a multi-storey carpark when he signed but he’s breathed life into Las Palmas. Lots of energy, hard work etc. Their midfield needed a player like him.”
Moving to La Liga from the relatively lower ranked Portuguese league in January, it was not expected that Etebo would at this stage have played every minute of the five games in which he has been involved. At the post match press conference, Las Palmas manager, Paco Jimenez said, “the signings have been a bonus to what we already had, and I am satisfied with the work all my players have put in.” He could as well have been talking about Etebo.
Super Eagles manager, Gernot Rohr, would have watched this assured performance and have been pleased even though Etebo is not a sure starter for the national team.
Etebo completed 92 per cent of his touches and his hold up play ensured that despite Barcelona’s press, Las Palmas were able to hold unto the ball in their own areas. He had an attempt on the Barcelona goal in the 31st and 39th minutes. He also got a yellow card on 66 minutes for a foul on Messi.
Las Palmas stay in 18th place with the point earned but look like they have been infused with new energy and belief [Etebo] to fight all the way to the last game of the season to avoid relegation.