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Best & Worst of Africa in the European Champions League

SWANSEA, WALES - NOVEMBER 03:  Victor Moses of Chelsea is congratulated by Gary Cahill on scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Swansea City and Chelsea at Liberty Stadium on November 3, 2012 in Swansea, Wales.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Ed DoveContributor IIINovember 25, 2016

A pair of Victors stole the show as Africa’s stars impressed in another tempestuous round of Champions League matches.

It seems Victor Moses can’t stop making an impact, as has been his wont in recent times, the young Nigerian frontman once again set about making headlines as Chelsea toppled Shakhtar Donetsk at Stamford Bridge. After recent, memorable strikes against Manchester United and Swansea, the young Nigerian’s latest impact may be his most important yet. With Chelsea labouring against a vibrant Shakhtar, Moses was introduced into the fray for Oscar, and had an instant influence on the Group E clash.

By the time that Moses was introduced with 10 minutes remaining, Chelsea should, in truth, have already been dead and buried—the scores being kept level thanks only to two catastrophic blunders by Ukraine keeper Andriy Pyatov. However, the former Wigan man was in no mood to settle for the draw and demonstrated a predator’s eye for the finish with a late, crucial winner that ignited the Chelsea fans in attendance. The goal gives the Blues a great chance of progression from a tricky group.

For Africa’s headline act, however, it’s hard to look much beyond Celtic’s midfield dynamo, Victor Wanyama. The Buoys’ victory over Barcelona could arguably be considered the second greatest result in their history, and the Kenyan superstar was as central as anyone in overcoming the Catalan giants. Not content with opening the scoring in the first half—a powerful jump and a firm header sending the ball past another Victor, Victor ValdesWanyama was influential throughout, hustling, tackling and passing confidently.

It is remarkable that a 21-year-old, plucked from the obscurity of southern Antwerp by Celtic only last year, was able to demonstrate such verve and authority against a Barcelona team that has enjoyed praise as the greatest side in history in recent times. The Scottish side picked up the Nairobi-born midfielder for less than a million pounds, and it’s staggering to imagine how a performance such as Wednesday night’s could multiply his value.

Nigerian centre-back Efe Ambrose also delivered a stunning performance on a famous evening at Celtic Park.

The standout result of this latest series of Champions League matches was in Germany, where last year’s defeated finalists Bayern Munich put six past a luckless Lille side. Whilst Ivorian frontman Salomon Kalou managed to pull one back for Les Dogues, Cameroonian centre-back Aurelien Chedjou gave a hapless first half performance, as his side were incapable of coping with the German heavyweights. The result leaves Lille without chance of progression from the Group, and even the compensation of the Europa League may be beyond them.

 

Ed Dove, @Eddydove

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