Frenetic talking points were ignited about two Nigerian players across Europe on Saturday, as Semi Ajayi got a red card in action with West Bromwich Albion of England, while Ike Ugbo slotted home another goal for Cercle Brugge of Belgium, megasportsarena.com reports.
The crux of the matter for Ugbo is that he might have signaled himself for an instant invitation to the Super Eagles with his 13th goal of the season in Belgium, but analysts were unanimous that the red card Ajayi received in action with WBA was authentic.
In Belgium, Ugbo equaled his personal single-season scoring record after finding the net in Cercle Brugge’s 2-1 win against Royal Excel Mouscron on Saturday evening.
The former England under-17 international, who has pledged his international future to Nigria and hopes to make his senior debut for the three-time African champions, subject to completed paperwork, was a smiles after making history for himself.
Before Saturday’s match, Ugbo’s personal best for the number of goals in a single campaign was the 13th he bagged when he played on loan at Roda JC in 2019/20, and it came after 13 minutes of play, when he headed in after Mouscron’s defence fumbled a corner kick clearance.
Ugbo was unlucky not to double the advantage on the half-hour mark as he struck the post from close range with the opposing keeper and the man who replaced him, Kévin Denkey, netted an insurance goal two minutes from time, rendering a 91st minute goal from Mouscron’s Serge Tabekou a consolation.
In England, former Arsenal defender, Martin Keown, ex-Chelsea captain Andy Townsend and Manchester United legend, Owen Hargreaves all opined that the referee, Mike Dean made a right call when he sent Ajayi off in the 30th minute of West Brom’s clash against Burnley at Turf Moor on Saturday evening.
Dean’s 111st red card shown as an English Premier League referee saw Ajayi sent off for blocking a a possible goal-scoring opportunity after a VAR check, leaving The Baggies to play out two-thirds of the game with ten men.
The ref went across to the monitor and sent the former Rotherham United stopper off because he was deemed the last man and committed an intentional touch, but Townsend and Hargreaves both blamed Conor Gallagher for Ajayi’s blight, saying the lad on loan from Chelsea gave a terrible pass which was misjudged by the Nigerian star.
Townsend posited: “Mike Dean didn’t have any other option, made exactly the right call. The ball back to Semi Ajayi from Conor Gallagher is a really poor one. I am afraid there’s no way to go with that, it’s just unfortunate.
“It looks like the hand goes towards the ball, whether it is intentional, whether it’s not I’m afraid it’s always going to be a red card. Mike Dean is running over there to check it, he’s made the right call I’m afraid today. No problem.”
Hargreaves added: “Easy decision for Mike Dean. I feel sorry for Semi Ajayi, I think he has played really well, he’s just got caught in an unfortunate position. Andy makes a good point, it’s just a poor ball from Conor Gallagher.”
Keown chipped in that he was shocked that VAR was used for the incident involving Ajayi and it wasn’t checked after the ball struck Bartley’s arm, and The Gunners’ icon declared during BBC Radio Live: “Ajayi had to go and then I don’t understand (the need for VAR check).”