The second tier of European club football, the UEFA Europa League kicked off Thursday as clubs around Europe jostled for results in match day one. We cast our gaze on the performances of Nigerians in the matches played Thursday night.
Alex Iwobi made a return to the starting line up of Arsenal in their 3-1 win over German side Koln at the Emirates stadium. Iwobi was given a central midfield role as the gunners battled from a goal down to eventually win the game on a night fan unrest delayed kickoff.
Iwobi was subbed off in the 68th minute for English man Jack Wilshere.
Chuba Akpom made the Arsenal bench but was not given a run in by manager Arsene Wenger.
Super Eagles duo of John Ogu and Anthony Nwakaeme lasted the full 90 minutes as Isreali champions Hapoel Be’er Sheva edged Swiss side Lugano 2 – 1.
Peter Olayinka made the most important contribution of all the Nigerians that featured in match day one of the Europa League, as he bagged an assist for Belgian side Zulte-Waregeem in their 1 – 5 loss to French side Nice.
Olayinka has been having a terrific season in the Belgian league with goals and eye catching displays, but his 46th minute assist for striker A. Leya turned out to be a consolation in a rather disappointing result.
Finally, Nigerian international Imoh Ezekiel came on as a second half substitute for Şahiner in the 72nd minute as his Turkish side Konyaspor lost 0-1 away to French side Olympic Marseille.