UCL: Ivorian Haller Steals Show in Impressive Matchday 1 for Africans

Ivorian international, Sebastian Haller scored four goals in Ajax’s 5-1 rout against Portuguese champions, Sporting Lisbon. Haller scored in the 2nd, 9th, 51st and 63rd minute as he condemned Sporting, who were making a return to the Champions League after many years, to an embarrassing defeat. 

Morocco’s Noussair Masraoui also featured in the encounter but was subbed in the second half. 

Haller took his tally for the season to eight goals in six games as he continues with his strong return to form after a misadventure in England at West Ham, following a club record move from Frankfurt two seasons ago. 

In Atletico Madrid’s fixture against FC Porto, three African players were listed with Central African Republic’s Geoffrey Kondogbia featuring from start to finish in Diego Simeone’s side’s goalless stalemate against Portuguese side, FC Porto. Nigeria’s Zaidu Sanusi featured for the 2004 champions, Porto while Congolese defender, Chancel Mbemba picked up his marching orders in the contest.

In Club Brugge’s shocking draw against star-studded PSG, Ghanaian international Kamal Sowah started for the Belgian champions before being subbed off in the second half. Sowah gave a good account of himself in the encounter which was his first of the season. Achraf Hakimi also impressed for PSG in the encounter while Senegalese international, Abdou Diallo also played from start to finish in the other side of the pitch. 

Egyptian star, Mohammed Salah scored in Liverpool’s 3-2 victory against AC Milan with Guinean midfielder Naby Keita also playing a part in the fixture. Cameroon’s Joel Matip also played from start to finish in the game as he continues his impressive displays so far. On the opposite end, Ivorian international Franck Kessie played a part throughout Milan’s loss at Anfield while Algerian international Ismael Bennacer also played and picked up a yellow card before his second half substitution.

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Riyad Mahrez was in the party in Manchester City’s nine-goal thriller against Germans, RB Leipzig. The Algerian winger scored a penalty in the 47th minute to continue his strong opener to the season. Mali’s Amadou Haidara also played a part for Leipzig as they lost 6-3 to the English champions at the Etihad.

In Sheriff Tiraspol’s stunning 2-0 defeat of Shakhtar Donetsk, Malian attacker Adama Traore was in the mix of things as he scored a beautiful bicycle kick to open the curtains. Yet-to-be capped Guinean international, Momo Yansane scored the second goal of the game to nail the  Ukrainian giants’ coffin on the night and give Tiraspol’s fans a sweet memory on their first taste of elite continental football. 

In Borussia Dortmund’s 2-1 defeat of Beskitas, Congolese international, Fabrice N’Sakala played from start to finish and gave a good account of himself in a makeshift left back position. Morocco’s Adel Taarabt came in as a substitute in Benfica’s 0-0 draw away to Dynamo Kiev on Wednesday to continue the African participation in the Champions League.

Recently-capped Nigerian international, Innocent Bonke made the starting 11 for FF Malmo as they fell 3-0 at home to Juventus. It was Bonke’s Champions League debut. Ghana’s Malik Abubakari also played a part in the game as he came on in the second half of the encounter.

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MALMO, SWEDEN – SEPTEMBER 14: (BILD OUT) Juan Cuadrado of Juventus FC and Bonke Innocent of Malmo FF battle for the ball during the UEFA Champions League group H match between Malmo FF and Juventus at Malmo New Stadium on September 14, 2021 in Malmo, Sweden. (Photo by Gaston Szerman/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

Edouard Mendy and Hakim Ziyech featured for Chelsea as they defeated Russian champions Zenit St.Petersburg at the Stamford Bridge. The two African stars enjoyed a dream start to life in their opening season at Chelsea, winning the highly-coveted Champions League trophy. Edouard is the current holder of the Best Goalkeeper in Europe award and continued with his fine form in goal with another clean sheet. 

Senegal and Villareal’s Boulaye Dia was subbed off in the second half of the Yellow Submarine 2-2 draw at home against Atalanta. Dutch international of Nigerian descent, Arnaut Danjuma also registered a goal in the encounter as he continued to justify his club record move to the Europa League holders. 

In Lille’s stalemate against Wolfsburg, Mozambican international Reinildo Mandava played from start to finish as he helped Lille keep it tight at the back. 

When Young Boys faced Manchester United in just their fourth Champions League game and their second against Manchester United, very few people gave them a chance to nick a draw, not less, a win. The Swiss, however, had other plans as they stunned the Red Devils in a grueling encounter in Switzerland. Manchester United had taken an early lead when Cristiano Ronaldo poked one past the Young Boys goalkeeper. A red card by Aaron Wan Bissaka in the 35th minute however tilted the balance in favour of the Swiss as they played with a numerical advantage.

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Guinean defender Mohammed Ali Camara gave a good account of himself in the game for Young Boys with Cameroon international, Moumi Ngamaleu scoring an equaliser in the 66th minute. Congolese international, Meshack Elia started the game for Young Boys and was substituted in the second period. 

Ngamaleu (left) helped banish Manchester United to a shocking UCL opening day defeat against Young Boys

Moroccan goalkeeper, Yaccine Bounou starred in Sevilla’s 1-1 draw against Red Bull Salzburg as his countryman, Yousef En-Nesyri got a red card for a second bookable offense after simulating. Malian international, Mohammed Camara played from start to finish for Salzburg in the interesting and dramatic encounter which saw four penalty kicks being awarded. Nigerian-born Austrian, international, Chukwubuike Adamu also came in as a second half substitute in the game while Swiss international of Nigerian descent, Noah Okafor also featured in the game. German youth international of Nigerian heritage, Karim Adeyemi also impressed in the game but missed a penalty in the fixture. 

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