Who Goes Through?

By Daily Sports Nigeria on April 18, 2024

•Boniface, Tella, Lookman, Chukwueze in dicey Europa battles

Six Nigerian players will be battling tooth and nail to help their respective clubs nick a place in the last four of Europe’s second and third-tier league competitions on Thursday (today), PUNCH Sports Extra reports.

Quartet Victor Boniface, Nathan Tella, Ademola Lookman and Samuel Chukwueze will hope to make history with their teams in the Europa League, while Bright Osayi-Samuel will be keen to help Fenerbahce overturn a 3-2 first leg defeat to Olympiacos in the Europa Conference League playoffs.

Club Brugge will also rely on in-form Raphael Onyedika in their bid to see out their aggregate victory in Thessaloniki after last week’s 1-0 win against PAOK, as they also go in search of a first title on the continent this season.

All players, except Lookman, were fully involved in their respective clubs’ first-leg encounters.

Boniface, who made an instant impact after he scored coming on as a late substitute for Bayer Leverkusen in their 2-0 win over West Ham last Thursday, will lead the newly-crowned German champions against David Moyes’s men at the London stadium.

Leverkusen head into the second leg with an unbeaten record of 43 games in all competitions this season.

The Nigerian forward, who was top scorer in the Europa League last season with 10 goals, has already scored five times and made one assist in six games for Die Werkself in the competition this term.

Buoyed by his form, Boniface hopes Leverkusen can win the Europa League and the DFB Pokal Cup for their fans.

“I have won a league title before,” Boniface said as the beer flowed freely in celebration at the BayArena on Sunday. “But this is different. This is bigger,” Boniface told BBC.

“We still have two other competitions (the Europa League and German Cup final) to compete in and try to win for our fans.”

His compatriot Tella is also expected to play a role in the encounter.

In Bergamo, Lookman, who watched from the bench as Atalanta left Anfield dumbstruck with an astonishing 3-0 success over Liverpool, will hope to help La Dea pile more misery on the Reds, who have a mountainous hill to climb when they visit the Gewiss Stadium for the second leg of their quarter-finals fixture.

Lookman, who is poised for his 15th Europa League appearance, will aim to add to his tally of three goals in the competition, if he gets to play.

For Chukwueze, he will be hoping to inspire AC Milan to a comeback win at the Stadio Olimpico as the Rossoneri trail Roma in the tie by the odd goal.

The 24-year-old has made three appearances in the competition but has largely unimpressed.

Milan had won both Serie A meetings this season, but the Giallorossi’s 1-0 win last Thursday puts them closer to a semi-final berth.

The winger could be handed a starting role against AS Roma as Stefano Pioli is keen to avoid another weak attacking performance against Giallorossi like his team produced in the first leg, which ended 1-0 to the Giallorossi at San Siro.

This move could mean a change in role for Ruben Loftus-Cheek for the encounter.

In the Europa Conference League playoffs, duo Bright Osayi-Samuel and Onyedika must overturn their sides first leg defeats in the Europa Conference League playoffs, if they hope to reach the last four of the competition.

Fenerbahce trail Olympiacos 3-2 from the first leg but will be confident of turning the tie around on the back of their impressive home run having won 11 of their last 13 home matches in European competitions.

With a place in a European semi-final for the first time in 11 years at stake, Osayi-Samuel and his teammates will be confident that they are still in the tie having trailed 3-0 after an hour last Thursday.

In Greece, Club Brugge will need another moment of magic from their in-form midfielder Onyedika as they look to book a place in the semi-finals at the expense of PAOK.

The 22-year-old has scored once in nine appearances in the Conference League but has been impressive in the Belgian Jupiler Pro Champions playoffs scoring three goals in three games for Club Brugge.






Source Punch Ng

Posted April 18, 2024


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