Drogba puts controversy behind him

LONDON - Didier Drogba shrugged off speculation about his Chelsea future to score in his team's 2-0 Premier League victory at Middlesbrough on Saturday, one of many notable goals from Africans playing in Europe.

LONDON - Didier Drogba shrugged off speculation about his Chelsea future to score in his team's 2-0 Premier League victory at Middlesbrough on Saturday, one of many notable goals from Africans playing in Europe.

In an interview with France Football magazine last week the powerful Ivorian striker suggested that he had been unhappy at Stamford Bridge for some time and would like a transfer to one of the leading continental sides.

However, Chelsea manager Avram Grant put his faith in Drogba on Saturday and he was rewarded with a typically strong run and composed finish in the eighth minute.

Elsewhere in the Premier League Zimbabwean striker Benjamin Mwaruwari continued his excellent form for Portsmouth with their first goal in a 2-0 win at Wigan Athletic.

Benjani broke the deadlock in the 81st minute, volleying home a cross from Ghanaian Sulley Muntari to move to the top of the goal-scoring charts with seven league strikes.

Ivory Coast international defender Kolo Toure scored his first goal of the season for Arsenal with a powerful, low, long-range free kick in the 68th minute of their 2-0 home win over Bolton Wanderers.

And South African forward Benni McCarthy scored twice as Blackburn Rovers cruised to a 4-2 home win over Reading.

In Spain, the two leading African players, Samuel Eto'o of Cameroon and Frederic Kanoute of Mali, both sat out injured as their teams managed contrasting results at the weekend.

Kanoute's struggling Sevilla ended their run of four consecutive league defeats with a 2-0 win at Levante but Barcelona missed Eto'o as they slumped to a 3-1 defeat at Villarreal.

In France, Algerian striker Rafik Saifi scored twice for Lorient but could not prevent his side sinking to defeat in a 5-3 thriller at Auxerre.

Nice moved up to seventh after two well-taken goals from Ivory Coast striker Bakari Kone helped them to a 3-1 home win over rock bottom Metz.

French-Senegalese forward Bafetimbi Gomis scored twice in six first-half minutes to give St Etienne a 2-0 win at Toulouse.

In Germany, Nigerian marksman Solomon Okoronkwo scored a last- minute consolation in Hertha Berlin's 3-2 defeat at second-placed Werder Bremen on Saturday.

In the Netherlands, Moroccan striker Samir El Gaaouri scored a consolation goal as VVV-Venlo went down 3-1 at second-placed PSV Eindhoven.

In Italy, Ghanaian striker Gyan Asamoah scored a terrific goal to save a home draw for Udinese as they were held 1-1 by fifth-placed Palermo. - Reuters

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