Super Eagles Stars Fly In Europa League, UEFA Conference Play-off Matches
By Ifeanyi Emmanuel
In a Europa League playoff first leg tie at Neo GSP, Cypriot side Omonia Nicosia came from behind to earn a 4-2 win over Alhassan Yusuf’s Antwerp.
Super Eagles fullback Abdullahi Shehu provided the assist for Omonia’s third goal in the 55th minute and ex-Nigeria U23 international Iyayi Believe Atiemwen came off the bench to wrap up the scoring in the 84th minute.
Former Liverpool man Taiwo Awoniyi was undoubtedly the star performer for Union Berlin in their 4-0 rout of KuPS at the Olympiastadion.
The German Bundesliga side had killed the game as a contest by half-time thanks to their Nigerian star who was involved in all their goals, scoring twice and providing an assist.
The former Nigeria U23 international became the first Union Berlin to score a goal in the UEFA Conference League when he smashed home from close range in the sixth minute before turning provider when he passed to Max Kruse to slot home in the 29th minute.
On 31 minutes, Awoniyi finished superbly with his left foot to make it 3-0, taking him to an impressive five goal involvements in his first three games since his permanent move to the capital outfit.
In a six-goal thriller at Bakcell Arena, home team FK Neftchi squandered a two-goal lead with twelve minutes remaining to draw 3-3 with Maccabi Haifa.
Left winger Yusuf Lawal matched Awoniyi’s feat by scoring a brace and chipping in with an assist for the Azerbaijani champions.
The 23-year-old bagged a scorcher from outside the box for 1-1 in the 50th minute, played a give-and-go with
Emin Makhmudov before beating the goalkeeper in the 66th minute to make it 2-1 and crossed the ball for Makhmudov to score FK Neftchi’s third goal in the 72nd minute.
At the Yeni 4 Eylul Stadi in Turkey, a Sivasspor side with Olarenwaju Kayode and Leke James in the starting line-up suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Danish Superliga giants FC Copenhagen.
James was in the right place the score from the rebound after his header was blocked by a Copenhagen defender in the 59th minute.
Finally in the UEFA Conference League play-off, Slovak Super Liga side MSK Zilina have a mountain to climb to progress to the next round after they were thrashed 5-1 in an away game against Jablonec at the Stadion Strelnice.
Taofiq Jibril netted a consolation for the visitors fifteen minutes from time.