Iheanacho scores first EPL hat-trick, Awaziem sent off again

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Nigerian footballers put up scintillating displays across Europe with several finding the back of the net, but it was Kelechi Iheanacho who grabbed the headlines.

ENGLAND

Kelechi Iheanacho scored his first English Premier League hat-trick in Leicester City’s 5-0 trouncing of bottom-place Sheffield United on Sunday.

The Foxes’ win handed Sheffield their highest defeat in 20 years.

It was the first time the Nigerian striker would score two or more goals in a Premier League match since scoring a brace in Manchester City’s 4-2 loss to Southampton on May 1, 2016.

The treble means Iheanacho has now scored in three successive games for the first time in his 133 EPL appearances.

The Foxes forward coolly tucked in Jamie Vardy’s cut-back to break the deadlock shortly before the interval, his first goal at the King Power Stadium since July 2020.

The 24-year-old got his second from another Vardy pass five minutes later, before the Nigerian’s powerful strike sealed his treble.

Iheanacho, bought from Manchester City for £25m in 2017, now has seven goals in his last eight games in all competitions.

With his hat-trick, Iheanacho joins Efan Ekoku, Nwankwo Kanu, Yakubu Aiyegbeni and Osaze Odemwingie on the elite list of Nigerians who have scored hat-tricks in the EPL.

His compatriot, Wilfred Ndidi, was also in action for the Foxes, playing the entire duration of the match. His assist for Iheanacho’s third goal is his third this campaign.

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Alex Iwobi was on as Everton lost 2-1 to Burnley at Goodison Park on Saturday as their Top Four hopes continue to dwindle.

Iwobi was on for 90 minutes, his 25th league appearance for the club. He has one goal and two assists.

Ola Aina, Tosin Adarabioyo and Ademola Lookman were in the starting line-up for Fulham, who lost 3-0 to leaders Manchester City on Saturday. All three players were on for 90 minutes, while Joshua Onomah was brought on for Mario Lemina in the 73rd minute. Josh Maja was an unused substitute.

William Troost Ekong and Watford continued their quest to return to the EPL with a 2-1 win at Cardiff City on Saturday.

Troost-Ekong was solid in defence despite playing at right-back. His compatriot, Isaac Success, came on for Ken Sema in the 77th minute.

Sheyi Ojo was also in action for Cardiff, replacing Josh Murphy in the 72nd minute.

ITALY

Midfielder Joel Obi was on the score sheet for Chievo Verona, who lost 4-2 to Lecce in the Italian Serie B on Saturday. The loss leaves Chievo in seventh position, nine points behind leaders Empoli, who are on 53 points. Obi has scored four goals with one assist in 21 games for the promotion hopefuls.

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PORTUGAL

It took just seven minutes for defender Chidozie Awaziem to be sent off against Benfica in the Portuguese Primeira Liga on Saturday as Boavista lost 2-0 to their hosts. It is the second time the defender will be sent off this campaign, the first against Sporting Lisbon in January as they also lost 2-0. The Nigerian has 17 assists this season.

NETHERLANDS

Maduka Okoye kept his second clean sheet in a row in Sparta Rotterdam’s 2-0 win over RKC Waalwijk in the Dutch Eredivisie on Saturday, taking his clean sheets tally to seven for the season. The Nigerian shot stopper has conceded 28 times in 20 league appearances this campaign.

At the AFAS Stadium, Tyrone Ebuehi watched as FC Twente were demolished 4-1 by AZ Alkmaar in a match that had three own goals. Ebuehi played the entire duration of the game for Twente.

TURKEY

After six games without a goal, forward Henry Onyekuru scored a brace to help Galarasaray to a comfortable 3-0 win at Kayserispor in the Turkish Super Lig on Saturday. Ramadel Falcao scored the opener for the visitors in the 44th minute before two late goals from Onyekuru in the 81st and 89th minutes handed the Turkish giants their first win in three games.

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Onyekuru played just 22 minutes, coming on for Emre Akbaba in the 68th minute. His compatriot Oghenekaro Etebo featured for eight minutes, replacing Emre Kilinc in the 82nd minute, while Valentine Ozornwafor was an unused substitute.

RUSSIA

Winger Victor Moses was on the score sheet as Spartak Moscow came from a goal down to beat rivals, Dinamo Moscow, in the Russian topflight on Saturday.

Moses scored his side’s equaliser in the 30th minute after teammate Pavel Maslov had scored an own goal in the 18th minute. It’s Moses’ second goal in 12 league games for Spartak, since joining on loan from Chelsea in the summer. He came off for Nail Umyarov in the 40th minute.

Chidera Ejuke featured for 84 minutes but was helpless as CSKA Moscow lost 2-1 to nine-man Arsenal Tula on Saturday. The tricky winger, who has two goals in 17 games, has failed to score in his last 11 appearances for the Russian giants. He was substituted for Nayair Tiknizyan.

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