Victor Osimhen had an effort ruled out before getting sent off in a disastrous 31 minute cameo as Napoli claimed their first win in nine attempts against Spanish opposition with a1-0 win at Real Sociedad in their Europa League Group F clash on Thursday.
Osimhen who was just named in Nigeria’s squad to face Sierra Leone in a 2021 AFCON qualifiers next month was sprung from the bench just after the hour mark with Napoli already leading courtesy of Matteo Politano’s 56th minute strike.
Club record buy, Osimhen, who has been enduring something of a goal drought since his summer move and has scored just once this season in five appearances in all competitions entered the game looking to make the points safe for his side.
The Nigerian thought he’d scored his first goal in the competition and killed things off for Napoli in the final few minutes after heading a Mario Rui freekick home, but the goal was chalked off as the full-back had hit the ball off his standing foot and was penalised for a double touch of the ball.
Osimhen then earned a booking for arguing with the referee before collecting his marching orders nine minutes later for a second bookable offence in the 90th minute as he completed an ill fated 31 minute cameo.
Il Partenopei held on to claim their first win in the group having fallen to a shock loss against AZ Alkmaar at the Stadio San Paolo a week earlier.
The much needed win lifted Gennaro Gattuso’s men to third place, level on three points with Sociedad while AZ Alkmaar top the group having earned a second straight win with a 4-1 thumping of Rijeka.
In Group D, Joe Aribo came off the bench in the second half while Leon Balogun helped Rangers keep a clean sheet as Alfredo Morelos equalled Ally McCoist’s European goalscoring record for the Gers with the only goal against Lech Poznan at Ibrox.
While Balogun manned the centre of defence from the start, earning a booking in the process, Aribo who made a goalscoring return to Rangers’ starting line up against Livingston in the Scottish Premiership at the weekend had to make do with a place on the bench before being subbed in nine minutes from time.
Colombia striker Morelos had already put Steven Gerrard’s men in front with a powerfully headed effort off a wonderful Borna Barisic cross in the 68th minute to take his European tally for Rangers to 21 goals.
Morelos had come off the bench six minutes earlier and quickly enhanced Rangers’ threat with the aggression they had been lacking in the final third.
The goal was enough to earn Steven Gerrard’s side an eighth straight win in all competitions and put them in a commanding position alongside Benfica in the group with both sides having six points from two matches. Benfica saw off Standard Liege 3-0 in the group’s other game.
Elsewhere, Nigerian teenager Folarin Balogun made his Arsenal debut as a 74th minute substitute for Eddie Nketiah as the Gunners crushed Dundalk 3-0 at the Emirates.
The 19-year-old England-born striker is eligible to represent Nigeria through his parents and has a burgeoning reputation at the club having scored prolifically at age-group levels and attracted serious interest from other Premier League clubs.
Balogun’s introduction may have long-term significance even if there was not to be a debut goal, and Arteta will be satisfied with what he saw from the striker.
Prior to Balogun’s entrance, Arsenal had already overwhelmed Dundalk by scoring three goals within 257 seconds either side of half-time.
Joe Willock doubled the Gunners lead in the 44th minute, two minutes after Eddie Nketiah had broken the deadlock before Ivorian winger Nicolas Pépé finished off from Willock’s assist a minute after the restart.
The win leaves the Gunners joint top of Group B level on six points with Molde who claimed a narrow 1-0 win at home to Rapid Wien.
Elsewhere, Belgian league leaders Antwerp secured a shock 1-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur and AC Milan extended their unbeaten run to 23 games as they won 3-0 against Sparta Prague at the San Siro.
Veteran striker Lior Refaelov’s first-half goal gave Antwerp their second win in Group J and put them top with six points, three ahead of Spurs and LASK of Austria.
Antwerp dominated the first half and went ahead just before the half-hour mark after a defensive lapse by Ben Davies allowed Dieumerci Mbokani to steal away the ball and set up the Israel international for a solid finish.
Four substitutions at the start of the second half reflected the irritation of Spurs manager Jose Mourinho, but Antwerp continued to look the more dangerous despite the changes.
Harry Kane came on for Gareth Bale 13 minutes into the second half, but the Spurs skipper was also unable to ignite a comeback as Antwerp proved defensively solid to hang on for the win.
In the other game in Group J, Austrian side LASK got the better of Ludogorets, beating the Bulgarians 4-3.
A penalty miss by Zlatan Ibrahimovic had little impact on AC Milan as they cruised to victory against Sparta Prague to go top of Group H with two wins from two games, while Scottish champions Celtic threw away a two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw at Lille.
There was drama in Group C as 10-man Bayer Leverkusen slumped to a shock 1-0 defeat away to Slavia Prague, and Nice edged out Hapoel Beer Sheva by the same scoreline to leave all three sides on three points after the first two rounds.
The goal of the night was scored by Omonia Nicosia’s Jordi Gomez, who struck a quick free kick from just inside his own half that flew over PSV Eindhoven keeper Yvon Mvogo and into the net.
Unfortunately for Gomez, his superb effort was in vain as Donyell Malen scored twice in reply, netting the winner in the 90th minute for a 2-1 victory to go second in Group E behind Granada, who drew 0-0 with PAOK Thessaloniki.
The spoils were shared in Group A as AS Roma were held to a surprise 0-0 draw by Bulgarian side CSKA Sofia, while CFR Cluj of Romania went top after a 1-1 draw with Swiss side Young Boys.
In Group L Hoffenheim made it two wins out of two with a 4-1 win over bottom side Gent, while El Fardou Ben Nabouhane scored twice as Red Star Belgrade went second with a 5-1 drubbing of Slovan Liberec.