By Izuchukwu Okosi:
Nigerians Moses Simon, Rabiu Ibrahim and Samuel Kalu were in action on Thursday night for Belgian club Gent in the second leg of their UEFA Europa League Round of 16 clash against fellow Belgium side Genk at the Luminus Arena which ended 1-1. Genk however qualified for the quarterfinals stage 6-3 on aggregate.
The Nigerian stars were all starters in the game as they sought to cancel a 5-2 first leg defeat. The duo of Simon and Ibrahim combined brilliantly on the left side of the field to good effect.
Kalu who scored one of Gent’s goals in the first leg last week at the Ghelamco Arena played on the right side of a three-man attack on Thursday and provided the assist which unmarked team-mate Louis Verstraete scored from to bring score at 1-1 in the 84th minute.
The other Nigerian at the club Anderson Esiti received two yellow cards last week thereby ruling him out of the return leg. The duo of Moses and Ibrahim had started from the bench in the first leg.
However it was Genk who scored first on the night in the 20th minute through Timothy Castagne after he was teed up by Jean-Paul Boetius inside the box.
At the Vodafone Arena in Istanbul, Cameroon international Vincent Aboubakar turned from hero to villain as he scored a 10th minute goal, his seventh strike in eight games, for Turkish side Besiktas as they defeated Greek club Olympiakos 4-1.
The 2017 Africa Cup of Nations winner was however red-carded in the 39th minute for head-butting by referee Michael Oliver.
Former Liverpool forward Ryan Babel scored a brace while Olympiakos’ goal came through Tarik Elyounoussi whose deflected shot from inside the box went past the helpless Besiktas goalkeeper.
Cenk Tosun made it 4-1 for Besiktas six minutes before full time. The Turkish side went through to the next round 5-2 on aggregate.
Hugo Mallo and Iago Aspas were the scorers for Spanish side Celta Vigo as they defeated home side Krasnodar in Russia 2-0 and make it to the next round 4-1 on aggregate.