Tuesday provided another spotlight point for milestones fro plays of Nigerian descent, as Marvin Akinlabi Park eventually got his full senior debut with Real Madrid of Spain, while former Golden Eaglets’ attacker, Terem Moffi continued his amazing burst of goals with FC Lorient of France.
Megasportsarena.com further gathered that Kenneth Omeruo was also in action for UD Leganes of Spain, where James Igbekeme hit target for Real Zaragoza, as Dinamo Zagreb of Croatia sensation, Iyayi Believe Atiemwen was also among the goal scorers in the East European nation.
In Spain, Omeruo produced a near-perfect outing for Leganes in the Spanish second division and they won 2-0 away to Girona, who were at home and aimed to use that opportunity to close the gap on the visitors, who were determined to move back into play-off contention.
Omeruo started his 12th league game of the campaign and played all 90 minutes, but it was second-half substitute, Kevin Bua that made the difference between both sides when he broke the deadlock five minutes after going and then completed his brace deep into added time.
Omeruo had a game rating of 7.4, made five interceptions, achieved three clearances, won four duels and completed 90% of his passes in his third clean sheet of the campaign; while Igbekeme scored his second goal of the season for Real Zaragoza.
Igbekeme’s stunner at La Rosaleda helped his side move out of relegation zone with a 2-1 win away to Malaga, against who the 25-year-old striker opened scoring after just 11 minutes before Carlos Vigaray made it 2-0 for the visitors just before half time.
In Croatia, Atiemwen scored for the third consecutive league game to help Dinamo Zagreb get a 1-0 win away to NK Istra 1961, on a day the former Bendel Insurance of Benin City prodigy started just his second league game of the campaign.
Having impressed off the bench in his last two outings, all eyes were on Atiemwen to make a difference, with the visitors hoping to win and maintain their hold on first position, but they wre forced into a first-half substitution when Josko Gvardiol pulled up injured with Marijan Čabraj replacing him after just 22 minutes.
The visitors found the breakthrough six minutes after the half-hour, when Mario Gavranovic found Iyayi and he made no mistake to fire home, but both sides failed to score in the second period, as the Nigerian lad’s loan strike helped his team get their 14th win of the campaign and stay top of the log, level on points with second placed NK Osijek.
In France, Moffi continued his recent good form with another game-winning goal for Lorient, as they recorded a 2-1 victory over visiting Paris at Stade Yves Allainmat – Le Moustoir and advanced into the next round of Coupe de France.
It became the second time in nine days that the 21-year-old Moffi netted a winner for Lorient, having scored the decisive goal in the 91st minute of a 3-2 win against Paris Saint-Germain on January 31, and he again helped The Merlucciidaes fight back from a goal behind to win in the closing minutes.
Moffi’s form in France is prompting talk of a maiden Nigeria call up for the exciting youngster, as the former KV Kortrijk of Belgium striker has hit the net in six of his last eight games for Lorient in all competitions.
Back in Spain, although Akinlabi’s historic day in Madrid was cut short by an injury, the youngster earned a rush of praises from Los Blancos’ coach, Zinedine Zidane, at a point Moffi’s stock is rising to an all-time high in the Real gaffer’s home country, France.
It is a huge leap forward for Akinlabi, who helped Real Madrid win last season’s UEFA Youth League and his strike against Inter Milan was awarded the best goal of the competition, and his presence on Tuesday boosted his side’s 2-0 win over Getafe in a rescheduled LaLiga match.
Second half goals from Karim Benzema and Ferland Mendy, during a game in which Zidane took everyone by surprise by naming Akinlabi in his starting 11, thereby granting the Spain-born lad with a Nigerian father and Korean mother a full senior debut since joining the Madrid-based club in 2016.
His two previous appearances prior to Tuesday’s fixture came against Real Sociedad and SD Huesca, as he logged 32 minutes in total across both LaLiga matches, and he has since been on the fringes of first team appearances after impressing in a pre-season friendly against the same Getafe in September.
For Tuesday’s game, Akinlabi, who is predominantly a right winger, was deployed as a right wing-back in a 3-4-3 formation, yet caught the eye before he was replaced by Sergio Arribas in the 55th minute after suffering an injury.
Zidane admitted during his post-match press conference that his first change was supposed to be Vinícius for Arribas but he changed his plan after Akinlabi’s injury, as the French legend disclosed: “Yes, we planned to take Vinícius off. But then Marvin Park hurt himself and we changed our plans.”