Nigeria striker Umar Sadiq made his La Liga debut in Almeria’s 2-1 loss to Real Madrid on Sunday despite the club having agreed a €30m million transfer with rivals Villarreal.
The Super Eagles forward started upfront alongside Belgian striker Largie Ramazani as Almeria coach Joan Rubi went with a 5-3-2 formation against the star-studded Spanish and European champions.
Sadiq wasted no time in making his presence felt as he nearly doubled his side’s lead in the 13th minute when he drove a shot at goal, but the attempt from the edge of the box flashed just over the bar.
That was after his strike partner Ramazani had shocked Madrid with a sixth-minute goal after finding the bottom left corner from an Inigo Eguaras pass as the newly-promoted side caused Los Blancos problems in the early exchanges.
After Almeria took a 1-0 lead to the break, Sadiq almost extended the advantage in the 53rd minute when he swept past a couple of defenders inside the box and tried to score low in the middle of the goal, but great anticipation by Thibaut Courtois allowed him to make a comfortable save.
The Nigerian was also a menace in the air, making life difficult for Real Madrid new recruit Antonio Rudiger as he won three of his six aerial dues while he also helped out defensively with three clearances.
Sadiq played 71 minutes, leaving the pitch after making two attempts, one on target, and a 70 percent pass accuracy after completing seven of his 10 passes.
The Nigerian, who looks to have played his first and final La Liga game for Almeria, was also booked for a foul five minutes before half-time.
There was speculation that Sadiq would sit out Sunday’s match as he awaits the completion of his move to Villarreal but Rubi opted to field him and the striker, who has 41 goals in 74 games for Almeria, did not receive a hostile welcome from the home fans.
Almeria CEO Mohamed El Assy confirmed the sale of the striker early last week and it was thought that the transfer would be completed in time for him to feature in the Yellow Submarine’s league opener which they won 3-0 away to Valladolid on Saturday.
“He will be sold for a little less than €30 million. We have 12-13 other players that have received offers, they are players who have a prestige in the market and you hope that they have a great future,” El Assy told Mundo Deportivo.
Goals from Lucas Vazquez and David Alaba helped Madrid come back from the early setback to begin their title defence with a victory.