Kelechi Iheanacho strikes again, Riyad Mahrez steals plaudits at Wembley

Kelechi Iheanacho has a solid record at international level: eight goals in 14 appearances for Nigeria between 2015 and 2017. Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Kelechi Iheanacho again proved to be the difference-maker for Leicester City as the Foxes gave their UEFA Champions League hopes a major boost with victory over Crystal Palace on Monday, after Riyad Mahrez had added to his extensive trophy collection as Manchester City side defeated Tottenham Hotspur in the Carabao Cup final. Here are the highs and the lows from Africa's biggest stars in Europe this weekend.

Iheanacho keeps UCL fire burning for Foxes

Leicester City's late-season wobble last term -- a lapse in form that ultimately cost them Champions League football this season -- has cast a heavy shadow over their 2020-21 campaign, particularly when Brendan Rodgers' side has let points slip.

Their Monday meeting with Crystal Palace had all the makings of another missed opportunity when Wilfried Zaha put the Eagles ahead in the 12th minute.

However, in Kelechi Iheanacho, the Foxes boast one of the in-form players in world football, and 'Senior Man' stepped up after a sluggish first half up to make the difference in the second stanza.

It was clear, soon after Leicester resumed hostilities following the pause, that the momentum in the contest had changed.

Iheanacho, latching onto a fine pass from Youri Tielemans, turned sharply and cut back for the advancing Timothy Castagne to slam home into the roof of Vicente Guaita's net in the 50th minute.

The striker then netted the winner 10 minutes from fulltime, as he picked out a long ball from Jonny Evans, shook off Patrick van Aaanholt, cut onto his left and slammed a thunderous effort beyond Guaita.

The movement, the touch, the confidence to strike so instinctively, were all indicative of a player at the pinnacle of his game.

The forward has now contributed decisively in the final third in eight of his past nine outings for the Foxes in all competitions, registering 12 goals and contributing two assists during that period.

Since the turn of the year, only Harry Kane (18) has had a direct hand in more goals than Iheanacho, who has scored 14 and weighed in with two assists since New Year's Day.

His turn of form -- commented on by Rodgers after Leicester's 2-1 victory -- is truly remarkable, with the striker now scoring as many goals in his past 14 games (14) as he had in his previous 76 outings for the East Midlanders.

"He's a talented player and I think of the difference in him tonight than when we played Crystal Palace last time," Rodgers said on Sky Sports after the match. "When we played them around the Christmas period, he wasn't playing so much, and when you are a striker in particular that rhythm of games is important.

"Over the last few months he's been absolutely incredible. It's not just [the goals]; he has no ego whatsoever, he works so hard."

Iheanacho's latest masterclass overshadowed the fine showing of Eberechi Eze, whose pass for Zaha's opener was his first assist in his past 10 appearances.

Ultimately, however, the day belonged to Leicester, with victory moving them seven points above fifth-placed West Ham United with five matches to play in the Premier League.

Surely, the Champions League will not elude them again...

Also in the race for the top four, Mohamed Salah and Liverpool were held 1-1 at home by Newcastle United, whose 95th-minute equaliser dented the Reds' hopes of returning to Europe's top table.

Despite the disappointment, Salah's opener took him up to 20 league goals for the campaign, becoming the first Liverpool player to hit that landmark in three separate Premier League seasons.

While standards may have dropped from those around him, the 28-year-old remains firmly on course to eclipse his Golden Boot-winning tally of 22 goals from the 2018-19 season.

Mahrez adds to his trophy collection

Often criticised for not truly having an influence over Manchester City's biggest, season-defining games, there's certainly still a point for Riyad Mahrez to prove at the Etihad Stadium.

Last term, for example, he was anonymous as Arsenal eliminated City from the FA Cup, and then was overlooked by Pep Guardiola for the Champions League quarterfinal defeat by Lyon -- against whom his creativity could have made a major difference.

He was unused by Guardiola earlier this month, as City were eliminated from the FA Cup by Chelsea, and hasn't made an impact in the biggest matches against Liverpool and Manchester United this season.

On Sunday, however, he delivered a superb performance in the Carabao Cup final, and was duly named Man of the Match as City defeated Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 -- a scoreline that didn't reflect their overall dominance.

Mahrez gave Sergio Reguilon a torrid time, leaving the Spanish full-back seemingly doubting his own capacities, and he was unlucky not to break the deadlock when he sent a rasping effort wide after capitalising on yet another moment of hesitation from the left-back.

- Marcotti: Man City innovate in Carabao Cup win, Griezmann stars
- Transfer Talk: Man United monitoring Senegal forward Abdallah Sima

Spurs' defenders appeared to freeze when Mahrez drove directly at them, and he created three goalscoring opportunities during the course of the contest.

Despite making more League Cup appearances than any player across the past three seasons, Mahrez had been overlooked by Guardiola for both of their two previous final successes -- against Arsenal and Aston Villa -- and he appeared keen to make up for lost time here.

"[Mahrez is] really important," teammate Fernandinho told City's official website. "He's really confident. He has his confidence back and I'm really happy to see him high in confidence.

"He can help us a lot during the games."

The Algerian has won six separate items of silverware since arriving at the Etihad Stadium, although, truthfully, he has more often proved to be decorative rather than decisive in those successes.

With the Champions League still to play for, Guardiola will hope that Mahrez can replicate Sunday's Wembley showing in the contests to come.

French Ligue 1

In Ligue 1, Terem Moffi continued his superb season, and a remarkable purple patch for Nigeria's strikers, when he bagged a hat-trick in FC Lorient's 4-1 pummeling of Bordeaux.

Unlike the youngster's double against Marseille the previous weekend, his goals against Bordeaux resulted in three vital points that saw Les Merlus move four points clear of the relegation zone.

Bordeaux's fifth consecutive defeat -- by contrast -- drags Samuel Kalu's side further into the relegation mire.

Moffi now has seven goal involvements in his past four matches, and has netted 13 since Dec. 23.

Islam Slimani 's opener wasn't enough for Lyon to defeat title rivals Lille, as Les Dogues came from two goals down to win 3-2 and remain atop the table, while Wahbi Khazri also struck in St-Etienne's defeat by Brest.

Italian Serie A

Simy Nwankwo maintained his outrageous goalscoring run with a double as Crotone continue to battle in vain against relegation.

Simy was not on the losing side this time, however, as Crotone picked up their fifth victory of the season with a 4-3 triumph over 19th-placed Parma.

Simy's double means that he's now the all-time record Nigerian goal scorer in Serie A -- moving ahead of Obafemi Martins in the rankings -- while no Super Eagle has scored more goals in a single season in a major European league than his 19.

Only Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku have scored more goals in Serie A than Simy this season, yet, remarkably, the frontman remains 13 points from safety with five games to play, and destined for a swift return to Serie B.

Elsewhere in Italy, Achraf Hakimi registered the assist for fellow full-back Matteo Darmian as Internazionale defeated Hellas Verona 1-0 to edge closer to their first Scudetto in 11 years.

Spanish Primera Division

Samuel Chukwueze 's opener against Barcelona wasn't enough to carry Villarreal to a famous victory over the Catalan giants in La Liga.

The wideman displayed composure and poise as he rounded Marc-Andre ter Stegen in style for his third goal in his past three game -- demonstrating the kind of consistency that has long been absent from his game.

However, the visitors struck back through an Antoine Griezmann double in the first half to boost their own title ambitions and leave the Yellow Submarine in seventh on 49 points.