Africans Abroad: Mixed fortunes for continental stars as La Liga returns

Defender Chidozie Awaziem and Djene Dakonam had a weekend to forget as La Liga returned following the coronavirus-enforced suspension this weekend, with both enduring miserable moments in defeats for Leganes and Getafe respectively.

Awaziem, perhaps, could point to ring rust for a disastrous moment inside the opening two minutes of Leganes' clash with Real Valladolid, as he let the visitors in for a pitiful opener.

The Nigeria international appeared to have things under control and had time on his side as he looked to clear a long ball forward.

However, perhaps unsettled by his onrushing goalkeeper Ivan Guellar, who deemed it appropriate to race out of his area, Awaziem appeared caught in two minds.

His header back towards goal lacked conviction, but still evaded the advancing Cuellar, allowing Valladolid's Enes Unal -- whose proximity to the defender appears to have been missed by the keeper -- to ghost in past the hapless duo and poke home.

It's was an episode to forget for the centre-back, particularly considering defensive failings have been a key concern for relegation strugglers Leganes, who haven't had problems scoring at the other end.

Javier Aguirre's side eventually settled -- much to the credit of Awaziem's compatriot Kenneth Omeruo, who was a model of composure alongside his international teammate -- although they had left themselves with too much to do when Ruben Alcaraz added a second for Valladolid.

Oscar Rodriguez pulled one back for the hosts after Ghana's Mohammed Salisu brought down Ivory Coast forward Roger Assale -- introduced by Leganes as a half-time substitute -- with a clumsy raised leg.

It was evidence that, while the 21-year-old is one of the most exciting defenders in Spanish football, and linked with a move to Stade Rennais, he still has many rough edges to buff out.

The defeat leaves Leganes in 19th on 23 points -- three behind Celta Vigo in 17th. However, with Barcelona away up next, things threaten to get worse before they get better.

Djene's Getafe stutter in UCL push

Over in Andalusia, Getafe looked to resume their push for an unexpected maiden Champions League berth when they travelled to mid-table Granada.

Things looked to be going to plan after David Timor's first-half goal, but Getafe came unstuck late on when Togo's Dakonam put the ball into his own net.

Attempting to clear a speculative free kick forward, the centre-back clumsily deflected the ball beyond his goalkeeper David Soria and then, has he tried to clear, only fumbled it over his goalline.

It was a shocking miscalculation for the defender -- another player who's been linked to an offseason move -- and it ultimately proved even more costly for Getafe as Carlos Fernandez scored the winner nine minutes later.

The turnaround leaves Getafe in fifth with 10 to play, one behind Real Sociedad after their 1-1 draw with Osasuna.

Dazzling Chukwueze catches the eye

Elsewhere, African duo Samuel Chukwueze and Thomas Partey enjoyed more successful returns to action.

The Nigeria wideman was introduced from the bench during Villarreal's 1-0 victory over Celta Vigo -- secured by Manu Trigueros's stoppage-time winner -- and was responsible for the game's outstanding moment of excellence.

Picking the ball up wide on the right, he slalomed past seven Celta players, only for keeper Ruben Blanco to block his close-range goalbound effort with an outstretched foot.

"That energetic drive by Chukwueze was too beautiful," wrote Nigeria women and Barcelona forward Asisat Oshoala on her Twitter handle, while her sentiments were echoed by former Real Madrid and Super Eagles midfielder Mutiu Adepoju.

"Great performance from Chukwueze against Celta Vigo at the Esatio de Balaidos," the Headmaster wrote on social media. "What an exciting player he is.

"I hope he keeps improving, as well as work more on his goalscoring abilities."

Cameroon's Frank-Andre Zambo Anguissa also caught the eye with a dynamic midfield display, to help the Yellow Submarine end a three-game losing streak and move eight points off the European qualifying berths.

Ahead of them in sixth, Atletico Madrid demonstrated some of their familiar failings under Diego Simeone this season as they eventually salvaged a point away at Athletic Bilbao.

A clash with this physical, obdurate Athletic side was always going to be a tough assignment for Atleti in their first match back after the break, and Partey was solid if unspectacular alongside Koke and Saul Niguez, weighing in with two completed dribbles and three aerial battles won.

Zirkzee makes his mark for Bayern Munich

Over in the Bundesliga, Dutch-Nigerian wonderkid Joshua Zirzkzee was handed only the third Bundesliga start of his career -- as a replacement for Robert Lewandowski -- for Saturday evening battle against erstwhile title hopefuls Borussia Monchengladbach.

The starlet definitely made the most of his big opportunity, capitalising on wayward distribution from keeper Yann Sommer before half-volleying home into an open net.

Still only 19, Zirkzee's overall performance was impressive -- particularly considering the shoes he had to fill -- and he again appeared comfortable in the big occasion, taking his goal with unswerving composure.

Remarkably, the youngster has averaged a goal every 67 minutes in the Bundesliga so far this season, a better goals-to-minutes ratio than Lewandowski (83).

Ghanaian youngster Kwasi Okyere Wriedt was introduced as a 77th-minute substitute for Bayern as they sought a winner after Benjamin Pavard's own goal had drawn the two sides level.

The victory -- secured with a late Leon Goretzka effort -- takes Bayern to the brink of the title, and they can wrap it up with one more victory.

For Ramy Bensebaini and Gladbach, defeat leaves them outside the Champions League berths with three games to play, and while they remain only one point behind Bayer Leverkusen, one victory in their last five games represents a worrying return.

Awoniyi taken to hospital

Another Nigerian talent, Taiwo Awoniyi, endured a testing weekend as he was hospitalised following a first-half collision with compatriot Felix Uduokhai in Mainz's 1-0 defeat by Augsburg on Sunday.

The Liverpool loanee, who netted in Mainz's first game back after the restart, landed awkwardly following a clash of heads, and was stretchered off in a neck brace.

"Our striker Taiwo Awoniyi suffered a concussion in his collision with Augsburg's Felix Uduokhai," Mainz wrote in a statement, "and is spending the night in hospital as a precautionary measure."

The defeat leaves Mainz in 15th, three points ahead of Fortuna Dusseldorf, who currently occupy the relegation playoff berth after their 1-0 defeat by Achraf Hakimi's Borussia Dortmund.

Jamilu Collins and Paderborn in bottom place are eight points from Fortuna after their 5-1 home demolition by Werder Bremen, and will need a remarkable upturn in fortunes over the final three games to stand any chance of salvation.

Finally, reported Arsenal target Evan NDicka netted in Eintracht Frankfurt's 4-1 victory at Hertha Berlin, while Schalke 04's Salif Sane has been ruled out for the rest of the season after picking up a muscle injury in their 1-1 draw with Bayer Leverkusen.