PARIS (AFP) – Ivory Coast captain Didier Drogba struck a superb goal at the weekend to set up Chelsea for a FA Cup final showdown with Liverpool.
The former African Footballer of the Year rifled the ball past goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini just before half-time to break the deadlock in a Wembley semi-final won 5-1 by the Champions League semi-finalists.
Other Africans on target in major European leagues included Nigerian Kalu Uche for Espanyol in Spain and Malian Modibo Maiga for Sochaux and Ivorian Max Gradel for Saint-Etienne in France.
DIDIER DROGBA (Chelsea)
The Ivory Coast striker scored the opening goal in the 5-1 FA Cup semi-final win over Tottenham at Wembley after 43 minutes. A long ball forward from Frank Lampard found the veteran, who held off William Gallas and turned before crashing an unstoppable shot past Carlo Cudicini.
YAYA TOURE (Man City)
The Ivory Coast star was instrumental in helping Carlos Tevez to a hat-trick in a 6-1 demolition of Norwich at Carrow Road. Toure’s 73rd-minute shot was saved by Norwich goalkeeper John Ruddy but the Argentine nodded in the rebound.
YAKUBA AIYEGBENI (Blackburn)
The striker didn’t play at the weekend as Blackburn slumped to a 3-0 loss at Swansea and could miss the rest of the season with his club facing relegation. “Yakubu is touch and go whether he will be back again this season, because he has got Patella tendonitis,” said manager Steve Kean.
MODIBO MAIGA (Sochaux)
Mali striker Maiga claimed the only goal of the game as Sochaux beat Dijon 1-0 to draw level on points with fourth-bottom Caen and fifth-bottom Brest in the race for Ligue 1 survival. The 24-year-old struck in the 71st minute, following up after Dijon goalkeeper Baptiste Reynet parried his 20-yard shot to ram home his eighth league goal of the season.
HENRI BEDIMO (Montpellier)
Montpellier left-back Bedimo played an unwitting role in his side’s 2-1 defeat at Lorient, which left them two points above second-placed Paris Saint-Germain in the title race. The Cameroon international inadvertently broke the deadlock for Lorient in the 69th minute, nodding the ball past his own goalkeeper, Geoffrey Jourdren, after Mathias Autret’s cross was flicked on by Jeremie Aliadiere.
MAX GRADEL (Saint-Etienne)
Ivory Coast striker Gradel scored his fifth goal of the season — his second in three matches — to set Saint-Etienne on their way to a 2-1 defeat of Brest that took Christophe Galtier’s side up to fifth in the table. Gradel put his team ahead in the 48th minute, wrong-footing visiting goalkeeper Steeve Elana from the penalty spot after his right-wing cross was handled by Brest’s Moroccan centre-back Ahmed Kantari.
CEDRIC MAKIADI (Freiburg)
The Democratic Republic of Congo international captained Freiburg to a goalless draw with Hoffenheim to keep the southerners clear of the relegation zone with three games left. The Kinshasa-born 28-year-old, who has spent more than a decade in Germany after starting out with Lubeck before joining Wolfsburg, was a constant threat in midfield and his team have now gone eight games without defeat.
KALU UCHE (Espanyol)
The Nigerian striker was again chosen ahead of youngster Alvaro Vazquez to lead the line against Valencia and Kalu Uche got his reward for his hard work with the final goal as Espanyol won 4-0. Uche took his only real chance of the game with 11 minutes to go, latching on to a pass inside the penalty area before shooting clinically into the corner with his left foot.
AROUNA KONE (Levante)
The reputation of the Ivory Coast striker continues to grow in Spain and he was a crucial player for Levante, who looked to pull off a surprise against Barcelona before eventually losing 2-1. After the match Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola praised Levante’s counter-attacking football which he said was among the best in the league, and Arouna Kone, with his strength and pace, is a key element to their success.