Europa League: Olarenwaju Shines, Iheanacho, Chukwueze Subdued On Mixed Night For Nigerian Stars

Olukayode Olarenwaju came of the bench to score with his first touch and register his fourth goal in as many Europa League games as Sivasspor boosted hopes of qualifying for the knockout stage with a 3-2 win at Qarabag.

The 27-year-old striker had scored in all three previous games but was surprisingly left on bench by manager Riza Calimbay for the trip to Qarabag.

He was sprung in the 57th minute with Sivasspor trailing and scored with his first touch moments later to draw the visitors level.

Abdellah Zoubir and Uros had scored for the hosts while Arouna Kone registered for the visitors before Olarenwaju’s equaliser.

Kone then scored a late winner to give the visitors all three points and markedly improve their chances of progressing to the next round.

The win moves Sivasspor to six points in Group I, one behind second-placed Maccabi Tel Aviv and four behind leaders Villarreal with two games left. Qarabag remain bottom with no points.

In the group’s other game, Samuel Chukwueze started his third game in the competition but was subdued as Villarreal missed the chance to seal progress to the knockout stage as they were held 1-1 at Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Chukwueze was on for 64 minutes before being replaced by Dani Parejo as Aleksandar Pesic’s goal two minutes after the break cancelled out Alejandro Baena’s first half opener for the visitors.

In Group G, Kelechi Iheanacho failed to replicate his brilliant performances in the reverse fixture as a late Jamie Vardy goal rescued a point for Leicester in a 3-3 draw at Braga that saw the Foxes qualify for the knockouts.

Iheanacho, who scored twice and bagged an assist in the first leg at the King Power as Leicester ran out 4-0 winners, was largely anonymous at the Braga Municipal before he was subbed off for Ayoze Perez in the 65th minute.

Mustassim Al Musrati’s 4th minute opener for Braga was cancelled five minutes later by Harvey Barnes but the hosts edged ahead in the 24th minute through Paulinho.

Luke Thomas equalised in the 78th minute but the hosts thought they had the game won when Fransergio scored in the 90th minute.

A frantic and frenetic game had more late drama, however, as England striker Jamie Vardy scored in the fifth minute of added time to rescue a point for the Foxes and a place in the next round.

Group leaders Leicester have ten points, three more than Braga while AEK and Zorya Luhansk are tied on four points with two games left.

Super Eagles winger Chidera Ejuke was on for 81 minutes but failed to make the difference for CSKA Moscow who saw their chances of qualifying from Group K recede after they were held to a goalless draw at home by Feyenoord.

A win would have lifted CSKA to second in the group but they remain rooted to the bottom of the group with three points, five off leaders Dinamo Zagreb, two behind second-placed Feyenoord and a point behind Wolfsberger who were thrashed 3-0 by Dinamo in the group’s other game.

Arsenal youngster Folarin Balogun came off the bench to score his first goal in the competition with his first touch as Arsenal sealed their place in the knockout round with a 3-0 win at Molde who had striker Leke James on from the start.

The victory maintained the Gunners’ one hundred percent record in Group B while Molde still have a good chance of joining Arsenal in the next round despite the loss.

England-born Folarin who is eligible to represent Nigeria through his parents came off the bench in the 82nd minute and scored a minute later to seal the win for Arsenal.

A barren first half gave way to a goal filled second period as Ivory Coast forward Nicolas Pepe and Reiss Nelson scored five minutes apart to put Arsenal two goals up before Balogun rounded off scoring.

James, who has scored 15 goals in 26 appearances in all competitions for Molde, failed to add to his tally in his hour on the pitch before he made way for Ohi Omoijuanfo.