Essien leads African goal rush

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PARIS, September 13 – Ghana superstar Michael Essien added gloss to his comeback this season after a lengthy injury absence by scoring twice as English Premier League pacesetters Chelsea won comfortably at West Ham.It was a great weekend for ‘Black Stars’ as Asamoah Gyan scored on his debut for Sunderland and there were goals for South African Steven Pienaar, Moroccan Marouane Chamakh, Cameroonian Alexandre Song and Ivorian Salomon Kalou.

Little known Senegalese striker Papiss Demba Cisse is on fire in the German Bundesliga, equalising for Freiburg as they came from behind to win and he is joint leading league scorer with four goals from three outings.

ENGLAND

DIDIER DROGBA (Chelsea)

The Ivory Coast striker didn’t get on the scoresheet in his side’s 3-1 victory over West Ham, but still produced an influential display. Drogba provided the assists for the champions’ first two goals as Michael Essien headed home his second-minute corner, then Salomon Kalou netted after West Ham made a hash of dealing with Drogba’s 18th-minute free kick.

MICHAEL ESSIEN (Chelsea)

The Ghana midfielder confirmed his return to peak form with two headed goals in the win at West Ham. Essien looks back to his best after missing the second half of last season and then the World Cup with a knee injury. In the second minute at Upton Park he rose highest to head in Drogba’s corner for his first goal since December 2009. He added another, again with a header, in the 83rd minute from a Paulo Ferreira cross.

SALOMON KALOU (Chelsea)

The Ivory Coast striker scored his third goal in three games as the champions strolled to victory over West Ham. Kalou’s goal owed much to some woeful play from West Ham as goalkeeper Robert Green fumbled Drogba’s free kick to team-mate Matthew Upson, whose wild clearance deflected the ball into the net off Kalou.

STEVEN PIENAAR (Everton)

The South Africa midfielder grabbed his first goal of the season in a dramatic 3-3 draw against Manchester United at Goodison Park. Pienaar, who last scored in March against Bolton, slotted a low shot under United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar from Leon Osman’s pass in the 39th minute. That put Everton ahead but they needed two stoppage-time goals to rescue a point.

ALEXANDRE SONG (Arsenal)

The Cameroon midfielder scored his first goal since December 2009 to help his side cruise to a 4-1 win over Bolton at the Emirates Stadium. Song last got on the scoresheet in a 4-1 win at Portsmouth, but he will bag a few more goals this season if he can repeat the kind of clever, chipped finish from close range that brought him a 78th-minute strike.

MAROUANE CHAMAKH (Arsenal)

The Morocco forward scored his second goal for Arsenal as they defeated Bolton. Chamakh, a free close-season transfer from Bordeaux, has to lead Arsenal’s attack in the absence of injured Robin van Persie and he seemed to be thriving on the responsibility as he netted with a header from a Cesc Fabregas cross in the 58th minute.

ASAMOAH GYAN (Sunderland)

The Ghana striker enjoyed a dream debut as he came off the bench to score his first goal for Sunderland in a 1-1 draw at Wigan. The Black Cats paid a club record 13 million pounds (15.6 million euros) to sign Gyan from French club Rennes on transfer deadline day and he repaid a slice of that fee by volleying home Jordan Henderson’s cross in the 66th minute after being sent on at half-time.

KOLO and YAYA TOURE (Man City)

The Ivorian brothers endured a frustrating day as big-spending City were held 1-1 by Blackburn at Eastlands. Roberto Mancini’s side needed a Patrick Vieira equaliser to rescue a point, leaving the Toures with only one league win from their first four matches together in England.

FRANCE

ABDOU KADER MANGANE (Rennes)

The 27-year-old Senegal midfielder scored in the first minute of injury time to give Rennes a 2-1 win at home against Sochaux and keep his team second in the table, a point behind Toulouse.

FRANCK DJA DJEDJE (Arles-Avignon)

The Ivory Coast striker, who has scored twice for promoted Arles-Avignon in five games this season, was unable to save the promoted club from slumping to a fifth defeat, this time a 4-0 loss at PSG, his former club. Not even a half-chance fell his way.

TAYE TAIWO (Marseille)

The Nigeria defender was a busy figure in the champions 2-2 draw with Monaco. He had a 17th-minute drive saved by goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier before teeing up Lucho early in the second half but his teammate blasted over.

GERMANY

DIDIER YA KONE (Hanover)

The Ivory Coast striker claimed his second goal in three Bundesliga games this season when he opened the scoring in the 2-2 draw against Bayer Leverkusen. Hanover took a 2-0 lead before Leverkusen fought back to share the points.

ISAAC VORSAH (Hoffenheim)

A first-half header from the Ghana defender opened the scoring for Hoffenheim as his side went on to beat Schalke 2-0 and maintain their 100 percent record after three games to lead the league.

PAPISS DEMBA CISSE (Freiburg)

The Senegal striker has now scored four games in three league games after he equalised for Freiburg against Stuttgart as his side fought back to claim a 2-1 win. The 25-year-old is in stellar form and has netted all bar one of his side’s goals this season to leave him as joint league top-scorer.

ITALY

SAMUEL ETO’O (Inter Milan)

The Cameroon forward was the hero as Rafael Benitez earned his first victory as Inter boss in a 2-1 success against Udinese at the San Siro. Eto’o played a disciplined role on the left side of a three-pronged attack and had few sights at goal. But when Inter were awarded a penalty midway through the second half it was he who stepped up to take on the responsibility. Although goalkeeper Samir Handanovic saved his spot kick, the Cameroon captain was alert to the rebound and slotted home his first goal of the season.

MCDONALD MARIGA (Inter Milan)

The Kenya midfielder kept his place in the team as his more experienced fellow African Sulley Muntari of Ghana was again named a substitute. Mariga was combative and even got forward on occasions to get in a shot on goal, although it was blocked. He made a couple of mistakes defensively, giving away a free kick on the edge of his box and playing a wayward backpass.

KWADWO ASAMOAH (Udinese)

The Ghana midfielder was typically powerful and positive in the middle of the park in a tough match against the champions. Asamoah was always willing to get forward and used his strength to make his presence felt. He even earned a free kick on the edge of the Inter box after a surging run, although the chance came to nothing.

STEPHEN APPIAH (Cesena)

The Ghana captain was a tower of strength as minnows Cesena upset the mega strike-force of AC Milan 2-0. Appiah put in a performance that belied his age and was a constant presence in the middle of the park, keeping the likes of Andrea Pirlo and Massimo Ambrosini largely quiet. And unlike the previous week, this time he made it to the end of the game, his experience proving vital in helping Cesena keep their shape and discipline.

ABDELKADER GHEZZAL (Bari)

The Algeria forward played a low key but disciplined role for southerners Bari in their 2-2 draw at Napoli that keeps them among the front runners in Serie A. Ghezzal only really had one sight of goal, a wild shot from outside the area that didn’t trouble Morgand De Sanctis.

SPAIN

QUINCY OWUSU ABEYIE (Malaga)

The Ghana winger followed up an impressive debut with his first goal for Malaga in his side’s 5-3 win at Real Zaragoza. The 24-year-old, on loan from Qatari club Al-Saad, scored on 34 minutes to put Malaga 5-0 up, stroking past Leo Franco in the Zaragoza goal.

DEREK BOATENG (Getafe)

Ghana midfielder Boateng starred in midfield as Getafe crushed promoted Levante 4-1 at home for their first win of the season. Boateng, 27, played the entire match and collected a booking just after the hour mark for protesting.

SEYDOU KEITA (Barcelona)

Mali international Keita had a day to forget as champions Barcelona were humbled 2-0 at Camp Nou by promoted Hercules. The 30-year-old midfielder played the full 90 minutes for Barcelona as they crashed to their first home defeat in the league in 16 months.

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