Africans Abroad: Ndidi puts on masterclass, Aubameyang returning to form

Is Ndidi's form key to Leicester's top four charge? (1:38)

Ed Dove believes Leicester City won't stutter at the final hurdle if Wilfed Ndidi remains fit. (1:38)

Josh Maja and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were two of Africa's standout performers across Europe's major leagues last weekend, with the former making his first mark in the Premier League and the latter reminding observers of his enduring quality.


They weren't only African players who enjoyed a weekend to remember, with Wilfred Ndidi putting on a masterclass for Leicester against Liverpool in what was a seminal performance by a defensive midfielder.

Ndidi's game by numbers vs. Liverpool:

68 touches, 21 duels contested, 19 ball recoveries, 12 duels won, 6 aerials won, 5 tackles, 5 clearances, 3 interceptions, 3 blocks, 2 chances created, 1 assist.

Henry Winter at The Times described it perfectly, writing, "Wilfred Ndidi is the repossession man. The Leicester City midfielder kept recovering the ball against Liverpool, stretching out a leg, being too strong, agile or quick for -- deep breath -- James Milner, then Roberto Firmino, Curtis Jones, Mohamed Salah, Thiago Alcântara, Sadio Mané, Thiago, Thiago, Thiago, Jones, Mané, Thiago, Mané, Firmino, Jones, Thiago, Thiago, Firmino, Firmino, Firmino, Thiago, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and then finishing off in style with an assist for Harvey Barnes."

Was it one of the better performances by a Leicester player, Jamie Vardy included, of the past decade? Probably. And Foxes fans will hope that Ndidi continues to be ignored by 'big' clubs so he stays put.

Maja makes his mark

Maja's most notable contribution to English football before last weekend was his role as the chief protagonist in Season Two Episode Two of the Netflix documentary Sunderland 'Til I Die.

This chapter of the compelling story of the decline of one of England's grand old clubs focused on Maja's bright performances in League One and his subsequent departure to Bordeaux after some testy contract negotiations with the Black Cats.

Two years after leaving England he returned in the January transfer window, signing for Fulham as Scott Parker sought offensive recruitments to give the Cottagers a fighting chance of beating the drop.

He didn't entirely impress in France despite netting a magnificent hat-trick against Nimes in December 2019, and he left Bordeaux having scored just twice in Ligue 1 this term.

He equalled that tally in the first 65 minutes of his full Fulham debut on Saturday, scoring twice two as the Londoners capitalised on Everton's lethargy to take an unlikely three points from Goodison Park.

For context it's Fulham's first ever away victory at Everton, and the first time they've taken points away at the Toffees since 1959.

The victory owed a lot to Parker's faith in Nigerian talent, with Everton old boy Ademola Lookman asking questions of Everton with his set pieces and looking lively throughout.

Full-back Ola Aina was influential in the first goal, sending in a superb cross for Maja to break the deadlock after excellent interplay with Lookman.

For the second, Maja tapped home a rebound after Harrison Reed's shot was tipped onto the woodwork, as Lookman again proved too much for the Blues' backline with some quick thinking in the build-up.

This was not the performance of a team down on their luck at the foot of the division, and Newcastle United's loss against Chelsea on Monday means that the Cottagers are now just seven points from safety with a game in hand.

In Maja, who became the first Nigerian player to score twice on his full Premier League debut since Efan Ekoku for Norwich City against Middlesbrough 28 years ago, Fulham may well have a player to fire them out of the bottom three.

"He was fantastic, scoring two goals," Parker said after the match. "The first move was brilliant; a nice bit of movement in and around the box and he's there to tap one in. The second goal was a real striker's instinct goal -- off the post and he's there."

There's been no shortage of praise for the way Parker has got Fulham playing, and he will have been delighted with how Maja adapted quickly to their busy approach, pressuring Everton's centre-backs and working the channels effectively.

"This is a night I have been dreaming about for a long time," Maja said after the game. "I had a feeling it was coming and pleased it became a reality. We took our chances when it came and put in another good performance again, we want to continue like this."

If he can maintain his goal output, he may well fire Fulham to safety.

The return of Aubameyang?


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While Maja has only two Premier League goals under his belt, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang took his tally to 62 with a hat-trick at the weekend.

He's now equal with David Beckham, Yaya Toure and Riyad Mahrez in the all-time Premier League scoring charts, and is only one behind his predecessor at Arsenal -- Alexis Sanchez.

Steadily, the hitman's form is returning, as goals against Southampton and Newcastle United, the latter in the FA Cup, were followed up with a league double against the Magpies before his recent absence due to his mother's illness.

In none of his showings, however, did he demonstrate the movement, sharp instincts and killer instinct that he did in the Gunners' 4-2 victory against Leeds United on Sunday.

It was an overall outstanding performance from Arsenal, with Bukayo Saka particularly eye-catching, but Auba appeared back to his best and appeared to be enjoying himself.

For his opener, he picked up on a through ball from Granit Xhaka, evaded Liam Cooper and Luke Ayling, and slotted home inside Illan Meslier's near post.

He added a second from the spot after Saka had been brought down before heading home from Emile Smith Rowe's delivery early in the second half.

Surprisingly, perhaps, that was Auba's first hat-trick in the Premier League -- he became the third player to net three goals on Valentine's Day in the league's history -- and based on this performance he's shaping up to a strong end to the season.

Moffi strikes again

While one Nigerian striker in Maja has departed the Ligue 1, another appears to be in the form of his life in the French top flight.

Terem Moffi is the form player in the division over the past six weeks, and he took his tally to seven goals in eight matches as he netted twice in Lorient 's 2-2 draw at AS Monaco on Sunday.

This was the former Kortrijk forward's best performance yet, as he undid a tight Monaco defence to end the Monegasques' eight-game winning streak in all competitions.

Certainly, the 21-year-old is making a major case to be included in Gernot Rohr's next Super Eagles squad; he's Nigeria's in-form striker in European football, and he could be set to play a big part in the coming international cycle.

"[Moffi] is showing his true class," Lorient boss Christophe Pelissier said after the game. "I followed him a lot last season. He gives us a lot in terms of power and offensive quality."

Moffi was duly chosen to lead the line in L'Equipe's Team of the Week, and his goals have fired Les Merlus one point outside the bottom three after 24 matches.

Also in Ligue 1 this weekend, Algeria's Andy Delort dented Lyon title aspirations with an assist for Teji Savanier's opener in Montpellier's 2-1 victory to end OL's four-game winning streak.

Ivorian starlet Sepe Elye Wahi netted the winner for Montpeller; he's yet to start a match in Ligue 1 but has already averaged a goal every 62 minutes across his seven substitute outings.

Mixed fortunes for Senegalese stars

Liverpool's miserable season took another turn for the worst as they were dispatched 3-1 by a rampant Leicester City -- superb during a second-half comeback -- to fall 13 points behind Manchester City.

The Premier league's leading scorer Mohamed Salah opened the scoring, but Sadio Mane 's bright display wasn't rewarded with a goal; indeed, the West African failed to hit the target with either of his two attempts.

He has scored just once in the top flight this year -- against Tottenham Hotspur last month -- and the Reds desperately need him weighing in with goals.

By contrast, Mane's compatriot Mbaye Diagne needed just two minutes to open the scoring against Manchester United as West Bromwich Albion secured a point in a 1-1 draw on Sunday.

The forward was recruited by Sam Allardyce during the January window after scoring nine in his last nine fixtures for Galatasaray, and the Baggies need more of the same if they're to stand any chance of bridging the gap to 17th.

"It's clear to see he's a goalscorer," Allardyce told the club's official website. "It was a great performance overall and a well-deserved point.

"I think, in the end, we created enough chances to win the game. We've got to build on this now and perform at a similar, if not better, level in the next few games."