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Umar Sadiq: What have we learned from Real Sociedad striker's La Liga goals?

08:33 BST 11/09/2022
 Umar Sadiq of Nigeria and Real Sociedad.
The Nigerian has netted in three successive top-flight games and could make it four in four on Sunday

Umar Sadiq may not be easy on the eye, but a promising start to life in La Liga is slowly silencing naysayers who doubted his ability to cut it at the highest level.

The 2016 Olympic Bronze medallist may have netted 38 times in two seasons at Almeria, culminating in gaining promotion to Spain’s top flight but the jury was still out.

Undistracted by initial transfer links to Villarreal at the start of the 2022-23 campaign before eventually securing a move away from Rubi’s team, Sadiq is so far showing the much-needed nous in front of goal.

Three goals in as many appearances mean the Nigerian is one of La Liga’s leading scorers in a fledgling season, with only three players netting more than the former Roma forward.

Despite switching teams before the transfer window shut, Sadiq is not showing signs of slowing down, scoring a debut goal for Real Sociedad to secure a point against Atletico Madrid to add to the two goals he scored before departing Almeria.

Per Fbref, the gangling forward has scored his three league goals from Expected Goals (xG) of 1.9, suggesting a slight overperformance and unsustainability.

This is somewhat evidenced by the fact he has netted with his last three shots on target and only an offside flag denied him another in the 1-1 draw with Diego Simeone’s men, preventing his fourth goal from as many efforts on target.

The breakdown of Sadiq’s goals in the Segunda Division saw him score 17 of 18 goals from inside the box, with only one scored from outside the penalty area. An eclectic mix of finishes saw the towering marksman score three headed goals while five and nine goals were left and right-foot goals respectively.

Interestingly, two of the 25-year-old’s goals in 2022-23 have been with his head, and he could match last season’s headed goals return with one more against Sunday’s opponents Getafe.

Even though only one of his three strikes has been with his foot, each goal has had a certain peculiarity to it. In this feature, GOAL takes a look at Sadiq’s three La Liga efforts, analysing the marksman’s movement and execution.

Elche 1-1 Almeria

Sadiq’s first La Liga goal was somewhat straightforward enough, opening the scoring for his old side at Elche from a Lucas Robertone corner.

When the Argentinean was about to take the kick, and with a cluster of Elche and Almeria players around the 18-yard-box, the Nigerian stayed at the far post, away from all the bodies.

Sadiq created separation from all but one player, allowing him room to run onto Robertone’s delivery and he headed the away side into a 23rd-minute lead.

Almeria 2-1 Sevilla

The centre-forward’s goal against Julen Lopetegui’s beleaguered crew was the winner in Almeria’s first win at Estadio del Mediterraneo since regaining promotion.

Sadiq’s 55th-minute goal demonstrated the Nigerian’s instinct for putting the ball in the back of the net by recognising the right movement to finish off a promising attack for his team.

Alejandro Pozo spotted Robertone pulling away from his central position to the space that has opened up on the right flank and sent a direct pass to the South American.

When the Argentine received possession and made a beeline for the box, Sadiq was far from being in a situation to effectively score a tap-in.

However, as Robertone ran into the box, the Nigerian — who was still outside the penalty area and a little behind striker partner Largie Ramazani — accelerated into the 18-yard-area and notably avoids making a near-post run.

Instead, Sadiq darted to the far post behind Sevilla’s defenders, putting him in a position for an easy finish if the South American picks him out.

With some help from Karim Rekik’s boot, Robertone’s ball fell to the Nigerian who diverted the ball home from three yards out.

Real Sociedad 1-1 Atletico Madrid

Last time out against Atletico, Sadiq’s second headed goal of the campaign 10 minutes after his introduction won a point for Sociedad on his debut for the club.

As the hosts’ move developed in the left half-space, the striker was in a central position with Axel Witsel and Reinildo Isnard Mandava close.

As David Silva received the ball and passed to Mohamed-Ali Cho, Sadiq recognised the space behind Mandava and moved there, hoping Cho sends the cross from the left wing to the far post.

The teenager’s ball was to the finest degree and Sadiq rose above the Mozambique defender to head home to level proceedings 10 minutes after coming on at the break.

Only the linesman’s flag killed the Nigerian’s joy when he thought he had turned the game on its head with 14 minutes to go, but a goal on his debut appearance put him in good stead going forward.

Sadiq is much-maligned and often gets an unfair rap from a majority of fans of the Super Eagles who remain unconvinced by the Sociedad man.

More goals in the top-flight like the aforementioned three will go a long way in keeping the muzzled critics quiet.