<
>

Africans Abroad: Mohamed Salah stars again, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang anonymous, Kalidou Koulibaly's injury misery

play
Moreno: There's still a better version of Liverpool out there (1:35)

Ale Moreno says that while Liverpool keep winning, he wonders when they'll hit the standards expected of them. (1:35)

As we approach award season in the Confederation of African Football calendar, Mohamed Salah continued to show why he remains among the favourites for the continent's 2019 Player of the Year award, while fellow contenders Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Kalidou Koulibaly endured weekends to forget.

Liverpool star Salah has consistently enjoyed playing against Watford, and he extended his fine run against the embattled Hornets with a double on Saturday to secure a 2-0 win and extend the Reds' lead the top of the English Premier League to 10 points.

The Egypt international's brace takes him to eight goals against Watford -- more than he's scored against any other side during his time in England or Italy -- while he's now overtaken another Liverpool hero, Luis Suarez, in the annals of great Merseyside goal-getters.

With 84 in 126 outings, Salah has two more for the Reds than the current Barcelona attacker despite having played seven games fewer.

His double against Watford was of the highest quality as a tricky obstacle was overcome on a day when the visitors were afforded more chances than many had anticipated.

First there was a calculated right-footed finish following a Sadio Mane assist, followed by an impudent flick to deflect a Divock Origi shot goalbound, as Salah showed a profligate Watford side how to put the ball in the back of the net.

"I'm practising [with] my right foot!" Salah told BT Sport. "I had good luck in the first goal.

"It was a counter-attack, Sadio played a good ball and I scored at the right time.

"We played against a tough team today. I think they should be [in a] better position than they are."

Mane, so often Liverpool's hero during 2019, was named the Premier League Player of the Month for November but endured a frustrating afternoon -- with VAR ruling out a delightful first-half effort.

In contrast to Salah and Mane, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang -- who shared last year's Golden Boot with the Liverpool duo -- endured an anonymous afternoon as Arsenal were defeated 3-0 at home by Manchester City. Remarkably, the Gunners captain -- in name if not conviction -- had just eight touches in the first half at the Emirates Stadium, with three from kick-offs.

That was evidence both of the blitz that the hosts endured, but also of a player who increasingly appears to shy away from action when things aren't going his team's way.

- Udoh: Dessers' decision sows fresh discord in Nigeria
- Marcotti: Arsenal's embarrassing weekend on and off the field

Nicolas Pepe was similarly ineffective as Freddie Ljungberg's side ran out of ideas, while Riyad Mahrez -- coming off the bench for City -- was denied a late goal by Bernd Leno.

Elsewhere in the Premier League, Wilfried Zaha extended his excellent run against Brighton & Hove Albion with his sixth goal against them -- more than he's managed against any other club -- as Crystal Palace salvaged a point at home, while Christian Atsu's first Newcastle United start in two and a half months ended with a 1-0 loss at Burnley.

Over in the Black Country, Wolverhampton Wanderers' Adama Traore was also on the losing side but not before producing an eye-catching performance against Jose Mourinho's Tottenham Hotspur, who struggled to deal with the rampaging right-sider.

Traore cancelled out Lucas Moura's opener with a thumping effort in the 67th minute after being played in by Raul Jimenez for his first competitive goal at Molineux.

Serie A

One player who continues to be heavily linked with a move to the Premier League -- and specifically to Mourinho's Spurs -- is Kalidou Koulibaly of Napoli, who looks to have played his final minutes as a disappointing year draws to a close.

Things reached a new low for the Senegal centre-back and his Partenopei teammates this weekend, as Koulibaly's error allowed Parma in to open the scoring in the fourth minute of Saturday's Serie A bout, with the defender picking up an injury in the process.

Arkadiusz Milik equalised for Gennaro Gattuso's new charges, but a stoppage-time winner from Gervinho ensured that Napoli's wait for a league win extends to eight games, as they slump into midtable.

Reports in Italy suggest the West African is set to miss a month of action, and he took to social media to apologise for the weekend's loss.

"I'm sorry," Koulibaly wrote on Twitter.

"For the goal conceded, for the defeat, for the injury."

Kwadwo Asamoah's Internazionale retained top spot from Juventus on goal difference after conceding a 92nd-minute equaliser at Fiorentina on Sunday, while Nigeria's Ola Aina was part of a Torino backline that crumbled late at Hellas Verona -- squandering a three-goal lead in 15 second-half minutes to draw 3-3.

La Liga

In Spain, substitute Karl Toko Ekambi was the hero for Villarreal as his 74th-minute goal carried them to a 2-1 victory at Sevilla and brought to an end their six-game winless streak.

Toko Ekambi replaced Super Eagles wideman Samuel Chukwueze in the 66th minute before snatching all three points eight minutes later to lift the Yellow Submarine to 22 points, eight clear of the dropzone.

Thomas Partey's Atletico Madrid moved six points behind dual leaders Barcelona and Real Madrid having played a game more with a 2-0 victory over stubborn Osasuna, and Morocco's Zou Feddal delivered a commanding display -- complete with an assist -- as Real Betis fought back to claim a 2-2 draw at Europa League hopefuls Espanyol.

Bundesliga

A fascinating Bundesliga title race continues to enthral in Germany, where Borussia Monchengladbach ceded top spot with a 2-1 loss at Wolfsburg.

Algeria's Ramy Bensebaini was unable to repeat his two-goal heroics from the previous weekend, although he did deny Xaver Schlager with a magnificent tackle just after the hour mark to keep the visitors' hopes alive.

Nordi Mukiele added the third for RB Leipzig as they moved into top spot with a 3-0 victory at Fortuna Dusseldorf, while Achraf Hakimi was a vibrant presence on the right flank for Borussia Dortmund as they crushed Pierre Kunde's Mainz 4-0 at the OpelArena.

Ligue 1

In France, Paris Saint-Germain cruised past Saint-Etienne away to extend their lead at the top of the table to seven points.

PSG made light work of ASSE even without injured Idrissa Gueye, although their task was made significantly easier by a 25th-minute red card for the hosts' midfielder Jean-Eudes Aholou following an ill-advised challenge on Leandro Paredes.

This left the hosts, already a goal down, exposed, and PSG duly picked them off in a largely one-sided encounter. Things could have been different for Les Verts had Denis Bouanga been more accurate with an early change that went wide, while he was also denied by Keylor Navas as Claude Puel's side attempted a comeback.

"It's frustrating to go down at home," Bouanga wrote on his Instagram handle on Monday. "Thank you to the Stephanois supporters for giving us this mad atmosphere."

Second-placed Olympique de Marseille lost ground on the leaders as they were held 1-1 away at Metz, with Senegal's Opa Nguette opening the scoring for the hosts. His international teammate Moussa Konate was also on the scoresheet, equalising for Amiens in their 1-1 draw with Dijon.

In Aquitaine, Ludovic Ajorque's sole goal was enough for Strasbourg to down Bordeaux 1-0 away, while Eduardo Camavinga scored the only goal of the game -- in the 89th minute -- as Rennes stunned Lyon 1-0 away.

Angola-born Camavinga has emerged as one of the breakout stars of the Ligue 1 season, and the 17-year-old is certainly one of Africa's starlets to watch in 2020 even though btalk of interest from Real Madrid may be premature.