This week, Ennio Morricone, one of the greatest film composers of all time, passed away in his Italy home at the age of 91. Morricone produced the score of the famous 1966 western film, the good, the bad and the ugly. The Italian was great at what he did and even won an Oscar for his score in Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight”. It should be noted that Morricone was not just a film composer; he was also a great performer and conducted many orchestras before his death.
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Just like Ennio Morricone delivered some of the greatest musical scores and performances in cinemas history, fans have also witnessed some brilliant individual performances this season.
Despite the outbreak of coronavirus causing a major disruption to the calendar, the 2019/2020 season has been full of thrills and fun across Europe’s major leagues.
Players like Roberto Lewandowski, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Mo Salah, Kylian Mbappe have won so many games individually for their teams due to their brilliance.
While these names are already world-class, Soccernet takes a look at some of the best individual performances from Nigerian stars in Europe’s major leagues this campaign.
NB: These selections are only games which saw Super Eagles stars stood out due to their brilliance. It’s not a list for best Nigerian stars in Europe, but you can read that here.
Joe Aribo vs Braga (Europa League)
Joe Aribo joined Rangers on a free transfer after his deal expired with Charlton. It did not take long for the 23-year-old to settle down, scoring in just his second game for the Gers.
Aribo scored nine times and provided eight assists in his debut season for Steven Gerrard’s men. Of the nine goals, the best came in a Europa League round of 16 encounter against Braga.
The Portuguese side had gone two goals up to silent the home fans, but Aribo’s introduction sparked a revival. After Romanian star, Ianis Hagi had halved the deficit, Aribo then brilliantly drew Rangers level.
Playing as an unorthodox left-winger, the Nigerian international ran through the opposition’s defence before firing past the goalkeeper.
His equalizer gave Rangers the energy to go for the winner, and they got it through Hagi who scored his second of the night.
Josh Maja vs Nimes (Ligue 1)
Maja is yet to really impress since he joined Bordeaux from Sunderland in January 2019. The Super Eagles star made 21 appearances for Les Girondins in the Ligue 1 last season, but he started just six.
However, despite the lack of opportunities, Maja still managed six goals in the French top-flight with three of those coming in Bordeaux 6-0 win over Nimes.
The 21-year-old gave Paulo Sousa’s men a comfortable half-time lead with a well-taken brace before sealing his hat-trick minutes into the second half with another sublime finish.
Further goals from Nicolas de Preville and an Otavio brace sealed a comprehensive win for Bordeaux. But it was Maja who grabbed the headlines.
Kelechi Iheanacho vs Everton (Premier League)
Kelechi Iheanacho is enjoying his best season in the Premier League since his debut season at Manchester City.
However, it did not start well for the former Golden Eaglets star as he had to wait until the beginning of December for his first Premier League appearance this season.
And it was an opportunity he grabbed with full hands. With Leicester City trailing by a lone goal against Everton, Iheanacho was brought on for Ayoze Perez, and he had an immediate impact, setting up Jamie Vardy’s equalizer before netting the winner in the final minute of added time.
His performance that evening turned his season around, and he’s now one of the important players in Brendan Rodgers team.
Victor Osimhen vs Nantes (Ligue 1)
The in-demand striker was brilliant in many games for Lille last season, including the Champions League games against Chelsea and Valencia. Osimhen scored 18 goals in 38 games for Lille, but the pick of them was his opening day brace against Nantes.
The striker joined Les Dogues from Royal Charleroi for 12m after scoring 20 goals in 36 games for the Belgian side. But despite his prolific season in the Belgian top-flight, he still had a lot to prove as he had struggled in the German Bundesliga.
But it did not take long for the Nigerian to clear any lingering doubts, scoring twice in his first game for Lille. The Super Eagles striking instincts was on display as he scored a brace in Lille’s opening day win over Nantes in the Ligue 1.
The brace helped him to settle quickly, and he went to score 18 times in 38 games for Christophe Galtier’s men.
Emmanuel Dennis vs Real Madrid (Champions League)
Scoring once in a Champions League encounter against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu is something most players dream of, but Emannuel Dennis managed to do that twice in a single game.
The 22-year-old became third-youngest player score a brace against Real Madrid in Europe’s biggest competition when he netted twice in Club Brugge’s 2-2 draw against the thirteen-time European champions.
Dennis first of the night was a thing of luck as he miscontrolled a Percy Tau’s cross past Thibaut Courtois in Madrid’s goal.
He doubled Brugge’s advantage minutes before half-time, chipping the ball over Courtois. Although goals from Sergio Ramos and Casemiro salvaged a point for Madrid, Dennis was the star that night.
The Super Eagles star even mocked Madrid fans that night by doing the Cristiano Ronaldo celebration. His profile has been on the rise since and has been linked with a move to Borussia Dortmund.