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22 February 2024

Ba makes immediate impact for Chelsea


New Senegalese signing Demba Ba made an immediate impact for Chelsea at the weekend, scoring twice on debut in a 5-1 FA Cup third-round triumph away to Southampton.

Ba ranks among the deadliest strikers in the English Premier League, scoring twice in his final appearance for Newcastle at Arsenal before the mid-season transfer window move to Stamford Bridge.

Nigerians had mixed luck in the Cup with Victor Moses scoring for Chelsea and stand-in Newcastle skipper Shola Ameobi sent off in a shock 2-0 loss at second-tier Brighton.

DEMBA BA (Chelsea)
Ba enjoyed a memorable start to his Chelsea career following his transfer from Newcastle United, scoring twice on his debut in a 5-1 win at Southampton. The Senegal striker opened his Chelsea account in the 35th minute, helping Juan Mata's goal-bound flick over the line from close range, before claiming a second goal from Eden Hazard's pass in the second half.

Nigerian winger Moses also got his name on the score-sheet at St Mary's, rifling home from Ashley Cole's pass shortly before half-time to put Chelsea 2-1 up. It was his first FA Cup goal.

MEROUANE ZEMMAMA (Middlesbrough)
Moroccan midfielder Zemmama claimed a brace of goals as Championship side Middlesbrough avoided an upset against seventh-tier Hastings United by winning 4-1 at the Riverside Stadium. The 29-year-old opened the scoring with a sublime 20-yard curler after 22 minutes and got on the score-sheet again via a deflected shot with 22 minutes remaining.

SHOLA AMEOBI (Newcastle United)
Ameobi endured a miserable day as Newcastle were beaten 2-0 at second-tier Brighton and Hove Albion. Wearing the captain's armband, the Nigerian striker was sent off with around half an hour to play after picking up a second caution for an apparently innocuous challenge on Brighton midfielder David Lopez.

The Burkina Faso defender was one of two players to miss from the spot in a penalty shootout as his high-flying team was knocked out of the French Cup in the round of 64 by third division Epinal. The match had ended 3-3 after extra-time, and Epinal went on to spring the biggest upset of the weekend when they beat the seven-time French league champions 4-2 on penalties.

The Ghanaian brothers did not feature in the 2-1 extra-time French Cup win over Guingamp and were badly missed as Marseille struggled. Jordan was suspended while Andre has a hamstring injury that will keep him out of the Africa Cup of Nations.

The Ghanaian has been used as a utility player by coach Jose Mourinho but is a player that the Portuguese can rely on and against Real Sociedad he faced a tough test at right-back against opponents boasting pace and movement in attack. The defence as a whole were never comfortable in the 4-3 victory with so many players out, but Essien had a steady game and was not at fault for the goals.

PAPE DIOP (Levante)
The Senegalese midfielder was a key player for Levante in the 3-1 win over Athletic Bilbao as he worked hard to close down the visitors but also got forward well to join the attack. Levante started slowly and Athletic took an early lead but Diop drove them on as they turned the game around while he also neutralised the threat from Athletic's playmakers with timely challenges.

The Moroccan winger has been an inconsistent performer for Levante on the right wing but produced a strong display in the victory over Bilbao. With Levante missing Nigerian Obafemi Martins, their main threat in attack, El Zhar rose to the occasion, making a lot of dangerous runs from midfield.