LONDON - Nigerian striker Yakubu Aiyegbeni kept Everton in the chase for a Champions League spot with two goals against former club Portsmouth on Sunday.
Aiyegbeni, the highest-scoring African to have played in the Premier League, brought his tally to 66 goals as Everton moved back into fourth place with a 3-1 win at Goodison Park.
The powerful 25-year-old has scored six goals in his past three games to silence the critics after he was fined two weeks' wages for reporting back late following Nigeria's quarterfinal exit from the Africa Cup of Nations.
By any measure, Sunday's performance was an impressive showing by a man whose career has taken him from central Africa to the northwest heartland of top-level English soccer via Maccabi Haifa in Israel and Portsmouth and Middlesbrough. After the match, Aiyegbeni, who cost Everton a club record £11,25 million, was praised by both managers.
Everton's David Moyes, the man who backed his judgment by signing 'the Yak' from Middlesbrough where he scored 25 goals in two seasons, described him as "a player who scores goals wherever he goes and, more than that, he's actually a very good footballer as well."
Former boss Harry Redknapp, who signed him for Portsmouth in 2003 when they were seeking promotion, was also full of praise.
"I was one of them who said that Everton paid too much for him, but I was just trying to get him cheaper," Redknapp said.
"It was just a cat-and-mouse game. I was wrong. In the end Everton did a deal and he has delivered for them."
Aiyegbeni added: "We really want to finish fourth and we knew Liverpool had won, so we had to win to keep the pressure on them. We deserved to win, we played well for each other and we got the three points we wanted."
Elsewhere, Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o scored for Barcelona against Atletico Madrid as they lost for the first time in nine La Liga fixtures. Mali striker Frederic Kanoute also scored for Sevilla in a 2-1 loss at Deportivo La Coruna.
In Germany, Egyptian international Mohamed Zidan scored as Hamburg SV beat Eintracht Frankfurt 4-1 to regain third place in the Bundesliga. - Reuters