By Dare Esan:
Former Golden Eaglets star, Kelechi Iheanacho made a brief return to action Tuesday night when he featured for 10 minutes as Manchester City under-19s marched into the quarter-finals of the UEFA Youth League with a hard-fought penalty shoot-out win over Schalke at the Academy Stadium.
The Nigerian starlet,SPORTING JERSEY NUMBER 39 came on for Barker for the last 20 minutes to help provide a focal point up front but a tough tackle forced him off and would be replaced by Celina in the 80th minute.
It was Iheanacho’s first game in the competition after recovering from a knee injury.This latest setback will be a blow to Nigeria-20 team officials who were considering including the player in the squad to the African Youth Championship which starts next weekend in Senegal.
After a 1-1 draw in normal time, spot-kicks were required to separate the sides and it was City – inspired by the impressive Angus Gunn and a vocal home following – who triumphed.
The hosts had looked to be sailing through to the next round, thanks to Jack Byrne’s sixth goal in seven games in the tournament but a last-gasp deflected Christian Sivodedov strike rescued a draw for the visitors, sending the tie to penalties.
Having surrendered their lead so late on in the game, it was feared the blow would affect the home side going into the shoot-out but the young Blues showed character to bounce back and clinch a 3-1 shoot-out victory.