Too Good, Too Bad: The Best & Worst of Nigerians Abroad

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Goal review the nation’s best performers around the world this weekend, and pick out a few who must improve

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    #5 Too Good: Ola Aina

    Torino knew what was at stake going into a potentially tough encounter with Atalanta: a win would put them firmly in the running for a continental slot next season, a draw would leave things as they were, while a defeat against the fellow European-chasers might have been tagged a hammer blow. 

    Walter Mazzarri needed a dogged, determined performance against a side that’d secured four wins in five away games before their trip to the Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino, and he got that in The Bull’s eventual 2-0 success. 

    Aina was one of the home side’s top players against Gian Piero Gasperini’s team; the left wing-back combined his ever-present industry with decent end product to create a few openings in the final third, while contributing defensively when required. 

    Torino have now won five of their last six at home, with Saturday’s success taking them above the Black and Blues into seventh - a place below Lazio who occupy that final European spot. 

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    #4 Too Bad: Wilfred Ndidi

    Claude Puel was in a spot of bother before Leicester City played host to Crystal Palace. The Foxes had picked up a sole win since the turn of the year and that came on New Year’s Day at Everton

    After an encouraging, albeit eventual 3-1 defeat by Tottenham Hotspur prior to facing Palace, the Frenchman needed a rousing display by Ndidi and co. to relieve the increasing pressure. 

    Unfortunately, he got nothing of the sort, as his side fell to a 4-1 loss at the King Power Stadium. The final whistle was greeted with a crescendo of displeasure and Puel was shown the door less than 24 hours later. 

    Ndidi and his teammates have now failed to win in six attempts, while losing four on the spin, and they appear in free-fall. 

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    #3 Too Good: Semi Ajayi

    In truth, the importance of a point when battling relegation is often under-emphasized. 

    For Rotherham United, though, a side with an inordinate number of stalemates (14 before Saturday) a match against a fellow struggler in Reading called for maximum points. 

    However, with Paul Warne’s side trailing the Royals heading into the final quarter, they’d have accepted a point.

    Luckily, Ajayi came up trumps to find the equalizer for the Millers in the 79th minute, making sure they prevented the home side from moving three points clear in the fight to beat the drop. 

    The 1-1 draw was their 15th stalemate - the joint-highest in the Championship - and keeps them in the relegation positions, not losing to the side directly above them could be pivotal in the context of their season. 

  4. #2 Too Bad: Oghenekaro Etebo

    While Ajayi helped his side to a draw, Etebo wasn’t at his best in Stoke City’s 1-1 stalemate against Aston Villa

    The midfielder was second-best in a glut of his duels, and seemed to lose possession time and again. He equally committed silly fouls, which eventually got in him in the book before the hour, and meant he had to play safe for the rest of the match. 

    Frankly, Etebo has been in impressive form for the Potters in the new year, so maybe he can be forgiven a below-par performance.

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    #1 Too Good: Paul Onuachu

    Playing catch-up is never easy, so when FC Midtjylland finally had the chance pile a bit of pressure on leaders FC Kobenhavn by pulling level in the title race, they were expected to take it. 

    Unfortunately, the Wolves fell behind to Aarhus Gymnastikforening just after the half-hour mark, and needed a response. 

    The towering Onuachu delivered when his team were caught in a tight spot by netting a brace - which puts him on 14 for the season - to edge his side in front, before an eventual 2-1 success. 

    Even though the game was marred by a triple sending off, with Onuachu one of those dismissed, Kenneth Anderson still had to be pleased his side picked up maximum points, consequently placing a bit of pressure on the leaders.