Africans Abroad: Musa Barrow scores wonder goal while Victor Moses cameo seals Inter's Milan derby win
With only three English Premier League matches taking place last weekend, the African stars in Serie A stepped into the limelight and made a series of notable interventions, with Victor Moses and Musa Barrow the stand-out performers.
The blockbuster Milan derby was the headline fixture in Italy, as Internazionale's title credentials underwent intense scrutiny at the hands of cross-city rivals AC Milan.
With Juventus falling to Hellas Verona on Saturday, the derby represented an ideal opportunity for Inter to leapfrog their rivals into top spot while also giving Antonio Conte's new recruits an opportunity to impress in a high-profile fixture.
Moses was dropped from the starting XI, having played 83 minutes in the victory at Udinese, but he was introduced in the 80th minute as Conte sought to kill off a contest that had swung back in Inter's favour following a dismal first half.
Ismael Bennacer and Franck Kessie had run the show for Milan during the first 45 minutes, with the latter contributing the assist from a corner for their second goal -- a Zlatan Ibrahamovic header on 46 minutes -- as the Rossoneri took control of the contest.
The second half belonged to Inter, however, as Marcelo Brozovic and Matias Vecino levelled the contest within eight minutes of the restart. The Nerazzurri then took the lead through Stefan de Vrij in the 70th-minute before Conte turned to Moses, introducing the former Nigeria international for Antonio Candreva 10 minutes from time.
This was the biggest match Moses has played in since the 2018 World Cup for the Super Eagles, and, as he did so many times under Conte during the pair's association at Chelsea, he proved to be the man for the big occasion with a late intervention.
Moses burst down the right flank in the second minute of stoppage-time, found space on the edge of the box, and sent in a weighted cross that Romelu Lukaku headed home to add gloss to a famous victory.
Moses enjoyed the finest years of his career -- and a Premier League title in 2017 -- under Conte, and the duo may be on for another famous title triumph with Inter top of Serie A after 23 games. Certainly, the statement comeback against Milan was celebrated like a championship victory, and the result could be the catalyst for Inter to launch a winning streak.
The most eye-catching contribution by any player in Serie A this weekend -- and indeed, any African player across Europe -- came at AS Roma, where Bologna new boy Musa Barrow delivered a masterclass to down the hosts.
The Gambian's cross was met by Riccardo Orsolini for the visitors' opener in the 16th minute, before Roma drew level through Stefano Denswil's 22nd-minute own goal. Barrow restored Bologna's advantage four minutes later with a sublime curling right-footed effort, but the best was still to come.
Six minutes after the restart, as Roma pushed forward for another equaliser, the former Atalanta man struck -- demonstrating the immense individual qualities that prompted Bologna to part with €19m to sign him during the January window.
Picking up the ball at pace in the left channel, inside the visitors' half, he tore forward, duping the Roma defence by opening his body as if to cross, then cutting inside beyond Gianluca Mancini before finishing calmly beyond Pau Lopez. It was a delicious effort to cap a superb individual display.
Also in Italy, Jeremie Boga maintained his fine scoring run with a 90th-minute winner in Sassuolo's 2-1 victory at SPAL 2013 as they made it three wins in their last four matches. Former Chelsea starlet Boga has been influential in Sassuolo's upturn in fortunes, scoring three in his past four games, and his recent form makes the Blues' €15 million buy-back arrangement look particularly inviting.
Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly also returned to action this weekend, playing 90 minutes in a rusty showing as the Partenopei fell 3-2 at home at Lecce. It was the Senegal international's first outing since sustaining a muscle injury in mid-December.
In contrast to Koulibaly, who picked up a booking during a sloppy display, Togo's Djene Dakonam was imperious as Getafe secured one of the results of the weekend at home against Valencia.
Two-goal Jorge Molina was understandably lauded for his display up top in a 3-0 triumph, but Djene's command of the backline underpinned an excellent team display. The centre-back, who has been linked with the likes of Arsenal and Barcelona in the past, won a team-high five aerial battles while also weighing in with six clearances. He made a series of other key defensive interventions, and created one goalscoring opportunity for the hosts.
In Galicia, Youssef En-Nesyri opened his Sevilla account after 23 minutes of their bout with Celta Vigo, but two goals in the final 12 minutes for the hosts ensured Julen Lopetegui's side returned home point-less. The goal was En-Nesyri's first since completing a €20 million move from Leganes in mid-January, and he demonstrated his aggression and composure by capitalising on a defensive error and finishing calmly.
Bayern Munich retained top spot in the German top flight with their 0-0 draw against second-placed RB Leipzig on Sunday, but they could find no way past the visitors' defence.
Franco-Bissau-Guinean centre-back Dayot Upamecano was Leipzig's outstanding individual, with one clearance off the line the highlight of a diligent defensive display. He contributed a further seven clearances, six combined tackles and interceptions, and was a composed presence amidst Bayern's barrage.
Ademola Lookman was introduced as an 81st-minute substitute for Christopher Nkunku, but wasn't able to nab a late winner for the visitors.
In the other blockbuster clash of the weekend, Achraf Hakimi contributed an assist for Raphael Guerreiro's 65th-minute effort for Borussia Dortmund, but we wasn't able to prevent them from falling 4-3 at Bayer Leverkusen to drop four points off the pace.
African performers were influential across the board in France, where Idrissa Gueye contributed an assist as Paris Saint-Germain overcame a second-half Olympique Lyonnais comeback to win 4-2. The win takes PSG up to 61 points, 12 clear of Olympique de Marseille, who heaped further woe on struggling Toulouse with a 1-0 victory in Provence.
Victor Osimhen took his goal tally to 12 for the season with the opener in LOSC Lille's 2-0 victory at Angers as they extended their winning run to three games.
Another Nigerian, Moses Simon, netted for Nantes in their 3-3 draw at Dijon, although the match was overshadowed by an injury to Senegal goalkeeper Alfred Gomis -- following a collision with the Super Eagles wideman- that will sideline the stopper for at least three months.
Andy Delort, Islam Slimani and Moussa Kone found the net in wins for Montpellier, AS Monaco and Nimes respectively, while Waris Majeed made it two goals in two outings for Strasbourg as they downed Reims 3-0.
Wilfried Zaha's assist for Christian Benteke's 51st-minute equaliser couldn't prevent Crystal Palace from falling to a 3-1 defeat at Everton. Jordan Ayew and Cheikhou Kouyate also featured for the Eagles, who are now without a win in eight games in all competitions.
Lys Mousset came off the bench to contribute the decisive assist as Sheffield United maintained their excellent form with a 2-1 victory over Bournemouth, but Abdoulaye Doucoure's 19th-minute opener wasn't enough to ensure all three points for Watford in their 1-1 draw at Brighton & Hove Albion.