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African All Stars

Alhassan Yusuf’s wonderstrike propels Royal Antwerp past Gent

5:40 AM GMT+8 31/01/2022
Alhassan Yusuf
The midfielder’s first-half beauty helped the Great Old secure an away victory over Hein Vanhaezebrouck's Buffalos

Alhassan Yusuf was Royal Antwerp’s hero, scoring the only goal in the Great Old’s 1-0 victory over Gent in Sunday’s Belgian top-flight encounter.

Having recorded three consecutive draws, the Buffalos welcomed Brian Priske’s men to the Ghelamco Arena with the ambition of arresting their poor form.

Nonetheless, that aspiration did not become a reality with the Nigerian midfielder deciding the outcome in the first half.

Royal Antwerp had the first opportunity to score but Michael Frey missed a 14th-minute penalty. However, that miss proved inconsequential as Yusuf handed them a well-deserved lead two minutes later. 

Profiting from a sumptuous pass from teammate Radja Nainggolan, the 21-year-old drilled a long-range shot past goalkeeper Sinan Bolat outside the goal area. That was his second league goal of the 2021-22 campaign.

Despite the hosts’ pouring attack, they were unable to restore parity as the visiting side put up a solid defensive display.

Gent stepped up their game in the second half, yet they were unable to get the desired goal and credit must be given to the quartet of Ritchie De Laet, Dorian Dessoleil, Bjorn Engels and Jelle Bataille for holding sway in the defence. 

At the end of 90 minutes, it was the Great Old who claimed all three points to extend their unbeaten run to six matches.

Alongside Tanzania star Mbwana Samatta, Yusuf – who marshalled Royal Antwerp’s midfield effectively – was in action from start to finish.

Whereas, Congo duo of Nill De Pauw, Luete Ava Dongo as well as Abdoulaye Seck (Senegal), Opoku Ampomah (Ghana, Yassine Ben Hamed (Algeria) and Bruny Nsimba played no part in the encounter.

On the other hand, Kenya’s Joseph Okumu played all 90 minutes for Gent’s but was cautioned in the closing stages. Angola’s Nurio Fortuna was handed a place in the starting XI but was subbed off for Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe in the 66th minute.

Elsewhere, Christopher Operi (Cote d'Ivoire), Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui (Cameroon), Adewale Oladoye (Nigeria), Chinonso Emeka (Nigeria), Sulayman Marreh (Gambia), Tarik Tissoudali (Morocco), and Ibrahima Cisse were not selected.

With this result, Royal Antwerp climbed to second in the log having garnered 47 points from 24 outings with Gent occupying the sixth position with a game more.

Yusuf would be hoping to prove crucial for the four-time Belgian champions when they lock horns against Kortrijk on February 2.