Europa League: Iheanacho Sets Record, Kayode Scores, Chukwueze Shines, Balogun Solid

Kelechi Iheanacho became the first Nigerian to assist two goals in a single Europa League game as his Leicester City side opened their Group G campaign with a 3-0 victory over Zorya Luhansk at the King Power on Thursday.

The Nigerian international set up first half efforts for James Maddison and Harvey Barnes and then capped an excellent performance with a goal in the second half as the Foxes rebounded from last weekend’s loss to Aston Villa. 

Iheanacho’s international teammate Wilfred Ndidi missed the game through injury.

The match was also notable as Stephanie Frappart – who became the first female referee to officiate a major men’s European match when she took charge of last year’s UEFA Super Cup – took charge of her first Europa League game.

Elsewhere, Villarreal’s Samuel Chukwueze and Sivasspor’s Olarenwaju Kayode faced off in Group I with the former bagging an assist and the latter on target as Villarreal edged a thrilling encounter at the Estadio de LA Ceramics.

Super Eagles winger Chukwueze set up Takefusa Kubo to open scoring for Villarreal in the 13th minute with Colombian forward Carlos Bacca doubling their lead from the spot seven minutes later.

Kayode then pulled one back for the visitors in the 33rd minute but the Turkish side were level three minutes before the break through a Mustapha Yatabare strike.

On-loan defender Juan Foyth restored the home side’s lead in the 57th minute but Ivorian Max-Alain Gradel struck seven minutes later to level matters yet again before Spanish international Paco Alcacer scored a late brace to put the game to bed for the hosts.

In Group D, Leon Balogun was solid in the heart of defence while Joe Aribo was an unused substitute for Rangers who claimed an excellent win at Standard Liege with James Tavernier and Kemar Roofe on target either side of half time.

Victor Osimhen failed to score in back-to-back games as Napoli were shocked by an AZ Alkmaar side that had seven players missing to the coronavirus.

Osimhen was subbed off in the 66th minutes, nine minutes after Dani de Wit scored what proved to be the winner to hand the Dutch side a famous win in Group F.

Chidera Ejuke came on at the start of the second half for CSKA Moscow and bagged a booking in the 53rd minute as his Russian side gave up an early lead to draw 1-1 at Wolfsberger AC.

Adolfo Gaich gave CSKA an early 5th minute lead but the home side struck back through Michael Liendl from the spot just before the interval as both side shared the spoils in Group K.

Ramon Azeez was unlisted as his Spanish side Granada stunned PSV Eindhoven 2-1 at the Philips Stadion in Group E. 

New signing Mario Gotze scored for the second game running to open scoring for the home side but Granada hit back with goals from Jorge Molina and Darwin Machis giving them the victory.

In other games, Scottish champions had a tough night losing their Group H opener at home to Serie A leaders AC Milan, who ran out 3-1 winners. In the other game in that group, Lille beat 10-man Sparta Prague 4-1 – Turkish forward Yusuf Yazici bagged a hat-trick in Prague to go top on goal difference.

Sporting Braga beat AEK Athens 3-0 in the other match in Leicester’s group while Jonathan Cohen scored the only goal as Maccabi Tel Aviv edged Qarabag FK in Villarreal’s group and Benfica scored an impressive 4-2 win at Lech Poznan in Rangers’ group.

Royal Antwerp beat Ludogorets Razgrad 2-1 away from home in Bulgaria in Group J and will next face Tottenham Hotspur who breezed past LASK Link 3-0 at White Hart Lane with Lucas Moura and Son Heung-min on target either side of an Andres Andrade own goal.

In Group B, David Luiz and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were on target as Arsenal rallied to beat Austria Wien 2-1 away from home while Molde also beat Dundalk by a similar scoreline away from home.

There were also away wins for CFR Cluj against CSKA Sofia and Roma against Young Boys in Group A while PAOK Thessaloniki were held by Omonia Nicosia in Group E with the game ending in a 1-1 draw.

Karim Bellarabi score a brace as Bayer Leverkusen eviscerated Nice 6-2 at the Bay Arena in Group C while Hapoel Beer Sheba beat Slavia Prague 3-1 in the other game in the group.

Jon Bautista scored in added time as Real Sociedad grabbed a 1-0 win at Rijeka in Napoli’s group, Dinamo Zagreb and Feyenoord played out a goalless draw in Group K, while in Group L, Hoffenheim beat Red Star Belgrade 2-0 and Slovan Liberec edged Gent 1-0.