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Okoye returns as Sparta Rotterdam hold Amin Sarr’s Heerenveen

09:01 GMT+3 04/04/2022
Maduka Okoye
After missing out on Nigeria’s crunch games against Ghana, the goalkeeper was in goal for the Castle Lords against the Super Frisians

Maduka Okoye returned to action as Sparta Rotterdam played out a 1-1 draw with Heerenveen in Sunday’s Dutch top-flight encounter.

The 22-year-old goalkeeper was excused from Nigeria’s World Cup qualification play-off due to Covid-19 as the Super Eagles failed to secure a place in Qatar 2022.

However, he recovered on time to make the Castle Lords' side against the Super Frisians in a keenly contested affair.

At the end of 90 minutes, the game ended on a no winner no vanquished note as the former Fortuna Dusseldorf man failed to extend his consecutive clean sheet record to three.

Unbeaten in their last four matches in all competitions, Heerenveen travelled to Sparta Stadium aiming to extend their fine streak.

With just 21 minutes into the showdown, the visitors took the lead through Sydney van Hooijdonk but the goal was cancelled by referee Allard Lindhout as he was adjudged to be in an offside position.

Ten minutes before half time break, the hosts were awarded a penalty kick after Swedish defender Rami Kaib handled the ball in the box.

Lennart Thy stepped up to take the ensuing kick with goalkeeper Erwin Mulder making an excellent save.

That was a big relief for Ole Tobiasen’s men who went into the half-time break without conceding a goal.

In dire need of a win to steer clear of the relegation zone, Sparta Rotterdam stepped up their game in the second half. That paid off in the 52nd minute as Vito van Crooij converted from the penalty spot following a foul on Thy.

The lead lasted for just 15 minutes as Senegal prospect Amin Sarr restored parity after meeting a perfect cross from Nick Bakker deep inside the box.

Despite late attacking forays from the home team, they were unable to get the decisive goal as honour was shared at full time.

As expected, Okoye was in goal from start to finish, while making some crucial saves. 
After impressing for 88 minutes for Heerenveen, Sarr was substituted for Siem de Jong with Nigeria’s Hamdi Akujobi an unused substitute. 

Morocco's Anas Tahiri was named in the starting XI but was pulled out for Arjen van der Heide in the 72nd minute

With this result, Sparta Rotterdam remain in the drop zone - sitting in the 16th position after garnering 22 points from 26 matches.