PARIS (AFP) – If 2012 African Footballer of the Year Yaya Toure thought a change of scenery would bring a change of luck at the weekend, he was sadly mistaken.
A week after his Ivory Coast team were bundled out of the Cup of Nations by Nigeria in South Africa, the English Premier League title hopes of Toure and his Manchester City teammates suffered a massive blow.
The title-holders slumped 3-1 at promoted Southampton to fall 12 points behind leaders Manchester United and Toure looked off the pace as he swapped the heat of the South African Highveld for the chill of southern England.
EMMANUEL ADEBAYOR (Tottenham)
The Togo striker made his belated return to Spurs after Cup of Nations duty when he came on as a substitute in a 2-1 win over Newcastle. Adebayor had frustrated Spurs by returning later than expected and was left on the bench for the first 69 minutes at White Hart Lane even though boss Andre Villas-Boas had no other fit senior forwards.
PAPISS CISSE (Newcastle)
The Senegal forward was unable to get on the scoresheet for the second successive game as Newcastle crashed to a 2-1 defeat against Tottenham at White Hart Lane. Cisse has just seven goals this season and struggled to make an impact on the Spurs defence in a defeat that kept his side dangerously close to the relegation zone.
YAYA TOURE (Manchester City)
The Ivory Coast midfielder endured a miserable return to England as the champions crashed to a shock 3-1 defeat at Southampton in his first match since competing in the Cup of Nations. Toure played 90 minutes at St Mary’s, but looked off the pace as Roberto Mancini’s men were beaten for the third time in the league this season, a result which leaves them 12 points behind leaders Manchester United.
CHRISTOPHER SAMBA (QPR)
The Congo Brazzaville defender endured a frustrating afternoon as his bottom of the table team suffered a 4-1 thrashing at Swansea. Samba, a January signing from Anzhi Makhachkala, was bought by Harry Redknapp to strengthen QPR’s defence, but they were destroyed by Swansea and lie seven points from safety.
STEVEN PIENAAR (Everton)
The South African midfielder couldn’t stop Everton slipping to just their fourth defeat of the season in a 2-0 loss against Manchester United. First half goals from Ryan Giggs and Robin van Persie were enough to kill off Everton, who are now six points behind fourth-place Tottenham in the race to qualify for the Champions League.
AURELIEN CHEDJOU (Lille)
Cameroon defender Chedjou headed Lille in front in their 3-1 win at Lyon, which dented the latter’s title hopes. The 27-year-old headed in a corner from Dimitri Payet but had a tougher time marking Lyon’s Argentine striker Lisandro, who won a penalty off his challenge on the hour for a consolation spot-kick.
YANNICK SAGBO (Evian)
Ivory Coast striker Sagbo levelled from the spot for Evian in their draw with Marseille, firing in on the hour after Kassim Abdallah fouled Tunisian Saber Khlifa. The Marseille-born former Monaco striker netted his third goal of the season as Evian moved out of the drop zone, above Sochaux on goal difference.
KASSIM ABDALLAH (Marseille)
Marseille defender Abdallah, 25, spoilt a solid showing for Evian in conceding the goal in their 1-1 draw with Evian, bringing down Saber Khlifa. Born in Marseille, Abdallah plays international football for the Comoros Islands, but is still finding his feet in the French top flight after a mid-2012 move from Sedan. His foul brought him a red card — a blow just as he starts to establish himself in the side.
IBRAHIMA TRAORE (Stuttgart)
Guinea midfielder Traore slotted a 50th-minute equaliser for Stuttgart at home but still ended up on the losing team as Werder Bremen scored three second-half goals for a 4-1 victory. After a pass from Christian Gentner fell to Traore’s feet, the winger fired into the top corner.
MAME DIOUF (Hanover)
In heavy snow, Senegal striker Diouf claimed his fifth goal in six games by converting a cross from the left to get the better of Hoffenheim goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes and slot home after only eight minutes. It proved to be the winner as Hanover won 1-0 at home to Bundesliga strugglers Hoffenheim.
LASS BANGOURA (Rayo Vallecano)
The Guinean winger scored his third goal of the season after just three minutes as Rayo upset Atletico Madrid 2-1 at Vallecas. The 20-year-old slid the ball home from Piti’s cross to get his side off to a flying start and he also had a hand in the second goal as his cross was converted by Leo Baptistao.
ODION IGHALO (Granada)
Ighalo struck for the second time in four games as Granada kept up their perfect start to Lucas Alcaraz’s reign in charge with a 3-0 win at Deportivo la Coruna. The Nigerian scored his side’s second goal six minutes after half-time with a composed finish into the top corner from a cut-back.
OBAFEMI MARTINS (Levante)
Nigerian striker Martins played the full 90 minutes as Levante went down 2-1 at home to Malaga. The former Inter Milan man was involved when his side went ahead on 27 minutes as he was brought down by Martin Demichelis and Jose Barkero converted the penalty.