Another Serie A weekend another goal haul for Napoli's Victor Osimhen, who also broke another record during a memorable weekend for African stars in Europe's biggest leagues.
Kelechi Iheanacho, promoted to the Leicester City starting XI after his FA Cup heroics, delivered his best performance of the season, while Sebastien Haller opened his account for Borussia Dortmund as they smashed Freiburg.
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Osimhen may have missed the World Cup, but there can be little dispute that he is Africa's outstanding player of the 2022-23 season.
The 24-year-old Nigeria star has established himself in the upper echelons of strikers, reportedly attracted considerable interest from the Premier League, and he is spearheading Napoli's Serie A title charge.
The Partenopei won again at the weekend, defeating Spezia 3-0 away, with Osimhen scoring twice to help the Naples giants secure their 18th victory of the season.
Osimhen hadn't looked particularly sharp ahead of the match, even going into the stands to check on a Spezia fan who'd been hit by one of his stray -- but powerful -- shots. Once the game kicked off, however, there would be no mercy from him.
Khvicha Kvaratskhelia opened the scoring for the visitors from the spot in the 47th minute, before Osimhen bagged two goals in five second-half minutes to secure maximum points.
First, in the 68th minute, he capitalised on a misunderstanding in the hosts' defence and leapt above goalkeeper Bartlomiej Dragowski to double Napoli's lead.
Moments later, he finished from close range after being played in by Kvaratskhelia.
The duo have established a near telepathic understanding in the final third, combining for 25 of Napoli's 51 goals in the league. No attacking partnership in Italy has been more potent, and, across Europe, only Paris Saint-Germain (Kylian Mbappe and Neymar) and Manchester City (Erling Haaland and Phil Foden) can call on two players with more goals combined this term.
Osimhen alone has 16 goals in 17 league games, and since last drawing a blank -- in the 1-0 defeat by Internazionale on Jan. 4 -- he's had a hand in eight goals in five league games.
His insatiable appetite for goals is fuelling transfer speculation, with a source close to the player telling ESPN last week that potential suitors would need to part with at least €100 million ($109m) if they wanted to recruit the player this summer.
PSG, Manchester United and Chelsea are among those clubs linked with a move for the striking sensation, whose five headed goals this season puts him behind only Harry Kane (seven) across Europe's major leagues.
But Osimhen's goals weren't the only thing that set him apart at the weekend, with the striker jumping a remarkable 2.58 metres to beat Dragowski to a looping clearance before heading home.
According to Il Corriere dello Sport, that beat Osimhen's previous best for a headed goal -- 2.52 metres against Torino in October 2021 -- and eclipsed Cristiano Ronaldo, a previous master of headed goals in Serie A, whose record stands at 2.56 metres, established against Sampdoria in 2019.
Osimhen remains just off Fikayo Tomori 's Serie A record for a headed goal -- 2.61 metres for AC Milan against Juventus in the 2020-21 season -- although you wouldn't put it past the Nigerian breaking this record as well based on his current form.
Osimhen is now four goals clear of compatriot Ademola Lookman in the Serie A scoring charts.
The latter -- also enjoying a magnificent season in the Italian top flight -- endured a weekend to forget when he was hauled off at half-time of Atalanta's 1-0 defeat by Sassuolo following an ineffectual first 45 minutes. La Dea ended the match with nine men following red cards to Joakim Maehle and Luis Muriel.
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Iheanacho had extended his outstanding run in the FA Cup when he netted Leicester's winner at Walsall, coming off the bench to settle a cagey encounter, and this weekend, on the back of that performance, Foxes manager Brendan Rodgers saw fit to promote the 26-year-old to his starting XI for the trip to Aston Villa; Iheanacho had previously made just one league start this season, when he scored against Brighton & Hove Albion in early September.
Rodgers was rewarded with, perhaps, the striker's best performance since his remarkable goalscoring run in spring 2021.
The forward scored once and registered two assists -- for James Maddison and Tete -- and should have had another goal but could only fire into side netting moments into the second half.
"It's been a little while," Iheanacho told Leicester's official website, after the club registered their first league win since before the World Cup.
"But getting this win now, we're happy, and we can build into the next games.
"Hopefully we can continue. It was a good performance, but we need to give more, running forward and back, challenging for first balls and second balls, winning battles."
Cameroon duo Bryan Mbeumo and Joel Matip experienced mixed fortunes in the Premier League, the former scoring in Brentford 's 3-0 victory over Southampton, and the latter enduring a miserable outing as Liverpool were thumped 3-0 by Wolverhampton Wanderers.
As well as scoring an own goal -- deflecting a Hwang Hee-Chan cross beyond Alisson -- Matip was jittery, hesitant, uncertain, and thoroughly lacking the assertiveness and composure that have largely characterised his tenure at Anfield. The 31-year-old may find himself on course to be one of several players cut from the club during an anticipated summer overhaul.
Steve Nicol reacts to Liverpool's 3-0 defeat at the hands of Wolverhapton at the Molineux Stadium.
Mohammed Kudus continues to rediscover his best form in the Dutch Eredivisie, the attacker's quick thinking lroducing an assist in Ajax Amsterdam 's 5-0 obliteration of SC Cambuur away that reduced the margin to league leaders Feyenoord to three points.
Kudus scored goals in his previous two matches, and his decisive contribution in three successive Eredivisie outings marks the first time he's enjoyed such consistency since mid-September.
The 22-year-old -- like Osimhen -- appears primed for a high-profile transfer in the summer.
"I first saw Kudus in a friendly match," ex-Ajax playmaker Rafael van der Vaart said on NOS Studio Voetbal after the Cambuur game. "[Former Ajax technical director Marc Overmars] said: 'Raf, really, this is my best purchase ever. He's going to be a hundred million.'
"He believed in him. He actually has everything a football player needs in his position: strength, speed. He's the best player Ajax have."
Kudus's former Ajax teammate Sebastien Haller continued his comeback from testicular cancer with his first goal for Borussia Dortmund in the German Bundesliga, a fitting way to mark World Cancer Day.
When BVB parted with €34.5 million to recruit the Ivory Coast international in July 2022, no one could have expected they'd have to wait more than six months for him to score his first Bundesliga goal for the club.
But the striker has had to undergo four cycles of chemotherapy, two surgical interventions, and intensive solo rehabilitation in the past half-year in order to return to contention.
He scored the third goal in Dortmund's 5-1 thumping of 10-man Freiburg, meeting a delicious Raphael Guerreiro cross at the backpost to head down into the ground and beyond the hapless Mark Flekken.
The result saw Dortmund move up to 37 points after 19 matches, three behind Bayern Munich in top spot.