Mariga repays the faith

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PARIS, April 26, 2010 – Harambee Stars midfielder Macdonald Mariga made a rare start for Inter Milan in the 3-1 defeat of Atalanta as coach Jose Mourinho rung the changes with Wednesday's Champions League semi-final at Barcelona in mind.

Mariga settled well in a defensive midfield position and even got forward at times, scoring his first goal for the club on 35 minutes as he arrived late in the box to meet a cross from Samuel Eto’o and fire high into the net.

Ivory Coast striker Salomon Kalou scored his first hat-trick for Chelsea as African goal poachers left their mark on the major European leagues at the weekend.

Kalou helped the English Premiership leaders rout Stoke 7-0 while fellow Ivorian Aruna Dindane struck twice to salvage a 2-2 draw for doomed Portsmouth at Bolton.

Nigerian Chinedu Obasi and Burkinabe Aristide Bance grabbed a brace each in Germany, and Angolan Mateus Manucho and Victor Obinna scored in Spain

ENGLAND

DIDIER DROGBA (Chelsea)

The Ivory Coast striker has now gone three games without a goal but still played a key role as his team roared back to the top of the Premier League with a 7-0 win over Stoke at Stamford Bridge.

Drogba’s brilliant control of Florent Malouda’s high pass allowed him to whip over a cross which compatriot Salomon Kalou headed in for Chelsea’s opening goal.

He also teed up Frank Lampard for a shot which Stoke goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen spilled for Kalou to score again just minutes later and then slipped a clever through pass for Daniel Sturridge to add Chelsea’s sixth goal.

SALOMON KALOU (Chelsea)

The Ivorian striker scored the first hat-trick of his Chelsea career to inspire a magnificent 7-0 win against Stoke. Thanks to Kalou’s heroics, Chelsea are back on top of the Premier League, one point ahead of Manchester United with two games to play.

He scored his first goal with a diving header from Didier Drogba’s cross in the 24th minute, then slid in to score from close range after Thomas Sorensen spilled Frank Lampard’s shot in the 31st minute and added a third in the second half as he took Lampard’s pass and beat Sorensen at the second attempt for his 11th goal of the season.

EMMANUEL ADEBAYOR (Man City)

The Togo striker was unable to enjoy a second revenge mission against former club Arsenal as City settled for a 0-0 draw at Emirates Stadium.

Adebayor had scored in City’s 4-2 win over the Gunners in September but the ex-Arsenal star, who joined City at the end of last season after becoming a target for Arsenal fans unhappy with his inconsistent performances, was forced to make do with a 52nd minute substitute appearance on his return to north London.

Inevitably, he was booed by his old supporters but there was no repeat of his inflammatory goal celebration which saw him slide to his knees in front of Arsenal fans at Eastlands this season.

KOLO TOURE (Man City)

The Ivory Coast defender enjoyed a low-key but successful return to Arsenal as City earned a 0-0 draw at his former club. With Emmanuel Adebayor the centre of attention following his bitter clash with the Gunners this season, Toure stayed in the background on his first visit to Emirates Stadium since joining City last year and gave a typically solid display.

ALEX SONG (Arsenal)

The Cameroon midfielder was booked as the Gunners were held 0-0 by Manchester City. Song played the full 90 minutes as Arsenal’s title hopes were officially extinguished by a lacklustre display which left Arsene Wenger’s third-placed side without a win in four matches in all competitions.

ARUNA DINDANE (Portsmouth)

The Ivory Coast striker scored twice as his already-relegated side came from two goals down to earn a 2-2 draw at Bolton. The FA Cup finalists fought back bravely thanks to on-loan Dindane, who was only able to play after his parent club Lens agreed to change a contract clause which would have forced cash-strapped Pompey to make a sizeable payment when he played one more game.

He reduced the deficit with a fine finish from Frederic Piquionne’s pass in the 54th minute and equalised in the 68th minute from John Utaka’s pass to take his season goal tally to nine.

JOHN UTAKA (Portsmouth)

The Nigerian helped his team fightback to snatch a 2-2 draw at Bolton. Avram Grant’s side looked dead and buried at the break but Aruna Dindane scored twice, converting Utaka’s 68th-minute pass for the equaliser.

AARON MOKOENA (Portsmouth)

The South Africa midfielder and captain once again filled in the centre of his side’s defence as they recovered from a dismal first half to draw 2-2 at Bolton.

Pompey trailed 2-0 at the break but, with an improved defensive showing led by Mokoena, they shut down the hosts.
AYEGBENI YAKUBU (Everton)

The Nigerian striker failed to score but Everton still earned a 2-1 win against Fulham at Goodison Park. Yakubu was taken off in the 87th minute after a determined display with Jose Baxter sent on and just minutes later Everton won the penalty which Mikel Arteta converted to seal the points.

STEVEN PIENAAR (Everton)

The South Africa midfielder was at his influential best as the hosts came from behind to claim a dramatic 2-1 win over Fulham. Pienaar has gone six games without a goal but could take satisfaction from another good win.

ABDOULAYE FAYE (Stoke)

The Senegal defender limped off injured in the ninth minute at Chelsea and Tony Pulis’s side collapsed in his absence. With Potters captain Faye missing from the centre of defence, Chelsea ran riot and claimed a 7-0 victory. It was Stoke’s heaviest defeat of the season and their first away league loss this year.

FRANCE

SOULEYMANE DIAWARA (Marseille)

The Senegalese star was again a rock as Marseille stood firm for a clean sheet in a 1-0 win over St Etienne which made it seven straight victories and preserved a five-point lead at the top over Auxerre.

MAMADOU NIANG (Marseille)

Fellow Senegalese striker Mamadou Niang was unable to find the net against St Etienne as Les Verts restricted Marseille to Mathieu Valbuena’s sixth-minute strike at the Stade Velodrome.

He had two close calls from dead-ball situations before fading and giving way to Ivorian Bakari Kone after failing to add to his season tally of 15.

ERIC MOULOUNGUI (Nice)

The Gabon international was on target with his second goal of the campaign as the southerners came from behind to beat relegated Grenoble 2-1 and ensure top-flight survival.

GERMANY

CEDRICK MAKIADI (Freiburg)

The Congo striker scored a 38th-minute winner to seal a 1-0 victory over Wolfsburg which gave his side their second consecutive league win and lifted them out of the Bundesliga bottom three.

CHINEDU OBASI (Hoffenheim)

The Nigerian striker scored twice in the 5-1 rout of Europa League semi-finalists Hamburg. The 23-year-old struck in the 31st and 71st minutes to leave him with seven goals for the season as Hoffenheim capitalised on poor defending.

ARISTIDE BANCE (Mainz)

The Burkina Faso striker has now scored five goals in six games after he netted twice in a 3-3 draw with Frankfurt. He scored from a direct free kick after his strike clipped a defender and looped over the goalkeeper in first-half injury time. He then produced the header to equalise on 86 minutes.

KARIM HAGGUI (Hanover)

Tunisia defender was once again on the wrong end of a result as his side were beaten 3-0 by Leverkusen having been hammered 7-0 by league leaders Bayern Munich last weekend. Hanover finish the weekend 17th on the table and are set to be relegated.

ITALY

SAMUEL ETO’O (Inter Milan)

The Cameroon forward and captain was forced to play the entire 90 minutes depite coach Jose Mourinho’s hopes of giving his star players a rest as young forward Mario Balotelli was barred from the first team. Eto’o was his usual busy and explosive self up front and even teed up Kenya midfielder McDonald Mariga for his first goal for the club.

SULLEY MUNTARI (Inter Milan)

The Ghana midfielder was a beneficiary of coach Jose Mourinho’s rotation for the 3-1 win against Atalanta as he found himself in the starting line-up. Muntari has had few starts for Inter since the turn of the year but got involved on the left of midfield and came within a whisker of getting a touch on McDonald Mariga’s goal.

SPAIN

MATEUS MANUCHO (Valladolid)

After a season to forget, the Angola striker has responded well to new Valladolid coach Javier Clemente and is becoming a key player in the team’s bid to avoid relegation. The powerful striker headed home Valladolid’s opening goal in the 2-0 win over Sporting Gijon with 10 minutes left and while still two points from safety, they have not lost in four games.

CARLOS KAMENI (Espanyol)

Espanyol went a long way to securing top-flight safety with victory over Almeria and while Luis Garcia scored the winning goal, Cameroon’s Kameni was equally as important with an excellent performance between the posts as he repelled everything that came at him. In particular, he made a fine block to keep out a Fernando Soriano shot at the end of the first half.

VICTOR OBINNA (Malaga)

The Nigeria striker returned to the Malaga squad from injury against Mallorca and made a dramatic impact by scoring in a 1-1 draw. Obinna said he would play through the pain to help Malaga’s bid to avoid relegation and after entering with 20 minutes remaining he opened the scoring for the Andalusian side in the 86th minute, firing home a clearance on the edge of the area.

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