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Africans in Europe: Weekend Review

KweséESPN review the performances of Africa's stars in Europe's five major leagues this weekend.

ENGLAND

With leaders Chelsea only playing on Monday, Tottenham Hotspur and Victor Wanyama knew they had an ideal opportunity to heap the pressure on their rivals away at West Ham United.

However, Mauricio Pochettino's side were out of sorts, falling to a 1-0 defeat after Andre Ayew picked out Manuel Lanzini who beat Hugo Lloris in the 65th-minute.

Wanyama was replaced by Vincent Janssen 17 minutes from time, but Spurs were unable to turn the contest around and the Pensioners could clinch the title before the Lilywhites kick another ball.

Liverpool, in third, were held at home by Southampton in a dire 0-0 draw, although Cameroonian centre-back Joel Matip deserves no criticism following the stalemate after delivering a spotless performance in the heart of the Reds' backline.

At the Etihad Stadium, Manchester City strengthened their grip on a Champions League spot with a 5-0 demolition of Crystal Palace.

Yaya Toure was imperious in the heart of Pep Guardiola's midfield, although the same can't be said of the Eagles' Jeffrey Schlupp -- admittedly played out of position in the centre of the defence -- as Sam Allardyce's side were thoroughly outclassed.

Congolese wonderkid Axel Tuanzebe made his full Manchester United debut at right-back in the Red Devils' 2-0 defeat at Arsenal, while Nigeria's Wilfred Ndidi opened the scoring as Leicester City confirmed their safety by outclassing Watford 3-0.

In Bournemouth, there were mixed fortunes for Senegalese duo Lys Mousset and Mame Biram Diouf. The former was handed a rare start by the Cherries but failed to impress and put Stoke City ahead with an own goal after 33 minutes.

Diouf will have been happier with his contribution, putting the Potters ahead again in the 73rd minute before a Ryan Shawcross own goal late on ensured the spoils were shared.

Keita Balde Diao
Keita Balde Diao

ITALY 

Yet again, Keita Balde was the star attraction in Serie A, opening the scoring after two minutes as Lazio demolished Sampdoria 7-3 in a mouth-watering demonstration of attacking football.

The capital club have now scored 16 goals in their last three games, with the irrepressible Balde bagging six as he continued to end the season on a strong note.

Across the capital, AS Roma moved back above Napoli into second with a 4-1 win at AC Milan, whose summer investment cannot come soon enough.

Mohamed Salah shone yet again on the right flank, contributing an assist for Edin Dzeko's eighth-minute opener as their relationship continues to bloom.

Leaders Juventus edged closer to the title with a 1-1 draw against Torino in the Turin Derby. Ghana's Kwadwo Asamoah featured for the home side, while his compatriot Afriyie Acquah, who was dismissed for a second yellow card.

Anglo-Libyan midfielder Ahmad Benali was also sent off while in action for already-relegated Pescara as they lost at home to Crotone, with Sulley Muntari dropped to the bench despite his one-match suspension being overturned following the racism scandal that enveloped Italian football last weekend.

SPAIN 

Barcelona remain top after outclassing Villarreal 4-1 at the Camp Nou on Saturday. Congolese frontman Cedric Bakambu continued his fine form when he struck an equaliser for the Yellow Submarine just after the half-hour mark -- cancelling out Neymar's opener -- but a Lionel Messi double and Luis Suarez's 69th-minute effort clinched all three points for Luis Enrique's side.

Real Madrid remain level on points having played a game less after they demolished already-relegated Granada and Henry Uche Agbo later in the day, while Thomas Partey delivered a star turn at right-back as Atletico Madrid edged past Eibar 1-0 to consolidate third spot.

On Friday evening, Steven N'Zonzi and Wissam Ben Yedder were both in action as Sevilla were held 1-1 at home by Real Sociedad in a result that ought to see them secure a Champions League playoff spot.

GERMANY

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang pulled back level with Robert Lewandowski in the Bundesliga scoring charts when he netted his 28th of the season on Saturday in a decisive tussle for third place and Champions League qualification.

The Gabon hitman may have missed a penalty, but he doubled BVB's lead over Hoffenheim in the 82nd minute en route to a 2-1 victory as Thomas Tuchel's side move two points clear of their rivals for a spot in next year's UCL group stage.

Auba is back in pole position for the German top flight's Golden Boot, while he could become the first African to hit 30 goals in the Bundesliga if he scores two in his remaining two fixtures.

Elsewhere, Naby Keita impressed yet again at the base of in-form RasenBallsport Leipzig's midfield as the UCL qualifiers downed Salomon Kalou's Hertha Berlin 4-1 away.

At the foot of the table, Wilson Kamavuaka's Darmstadt were relegated after a 1-0 defeat at champions Bayern Munich.

FRANCE

Nabil Dirar featured at right-back as AS Monaco's relentless domestic form continued apace with a 3-0 triumph away at Nancy on Saturday.

Leonardo Jardim's side are three points clear of Paris Saint-Germain having played a game fewer, and would all but guarantee the title if they beat LOSC Lille at home next weekend.

Paris Saint-Germain kept pace with the leaders as they routed SC Bastia 5-0 in controversial fashion, with Franco-Congolese teenager Christopher Nkunku coming on for the reigning champions.

OGC Nice's undefeated streak ended at Marseille despite the best efforts of Younes Belhanda and Jean Seri, while new Ivorian international Maxwel Cornet struck twice as Olympique Lyonnais downed Nantes 3-2.

Elsewhere, Congo's Firmin Ndombe Mubele struck the only goal of the game as Stade Rennais saw off Montpellier, while Yannis Salibur, another player eligible for the Leopards, hit two as Guingamp thumped Dijon 4-0.

Ed Dove is the Soccer Editor for KweséESPN. Follow him on Twitter @EddyDove.

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