Super Eagles utility defender, Ola Aina came off the bench to help Italian side Torino stretch their unbeaten run to seven as they came from behind to defeat Frosinone 2-1 away from home, at the weekend.
The 22-year-old was deemed not too fit to start by Head Coach Walter Mazzari and had to do with a place on the bench as Torino went in search of their fifth win in seven outings.
But it was the hosts that struck first when Luca Paganini turned home Camillo Ciano’s cross three minutes to half time to give Frosinone a 1-0 half time lead.
With European qualification their main priority, Torino equalized 11 minutes after the restart when captain Andre Bellotti turned home to make it 1-1 before Aina was introduced on the 69th minute for Lorenzo de Silvestri.
The Nigerian, however, turned out to be the match hero when he set up Andre Bellotti 13 minutes from time to guide home his second of the day and Torino’s second as the visitors snatched a precious 2-1 win to move up to sixth on the table.
Aina was however booked late on for time wasting but he still managed to earn a game rating of 6.8, completing 73% of his passes, winning five duels and also making 1 clearance to further show his importance to the Turin giants.
Chinese Super League: Maybe Mikel Obi Is Wrong In Warning Younger Players
Former Tianjin Teda midfielder, John Mike Obi suggested that players under 30 who move to China would regret it
Ex-Chelsea teammate Oscar at Shanghai SIPG leads a growing list of footballers who are adding to their reputations in the CSL
Middlesbrough midfielder John Mikel Obi did not mince his words about his time in China in a recent interview.
The Nigeria captain returned to England in the last transfer window, signing for the Championship club from Chinese Super League side Tianjin Teda.
The 31-year-old, who has impressed at his new club, offered advice to those who might consider following in his footsteps.
“My advice to anyone thinking about going, is have a long think about it,” he told The Telegraph. “You have to go at the right time.
“I certainly wouldn’t say to anyone under the age of 30 to go there. They will regret it if they do.
“It’s worth doing for a couple of years, if only to learn a different culture, to give yourself an experience that takes you out of your comfort zone, but do not be tempted by the money if you are young. Do your research, check what sort of club you are going to.
“You should wait until you are approaching the end of your career. The money makes the move tempting, we’re only human, but do not be tempted by the size of the cheque if you are in the prime of your career. It’s not worth it.”
It’s an understandable view, especially from a player who revealed he could not get a Premier League contract in January, but there are plenty of players it seems who are all too happy to ignore Mikel’s misgivings.
Guangzhou Evergrande 1-0 Tianjin Teda
Take Paulinho, who scored the winner for Guangzhou Evergrande in their 1-0 victory over Mikel’s former teammates on Friday night.
The Brazilian may be 30 but he first joined Evergrande as a 24-year-old and played the best football of his career. What’s more, he translated that to a move to Barcelona where he won the La Liga title. There are not many better clubs to earn a transfer to and there is no reason why Paulinho’s 25-year-old teammate Anderson Talisca cannot follow that lead.
If he continues to impress in China then a move to a big European club will follow in due course.
Shanghai SIPG 3-2 Jiangsu Suning
Up and down the Chinese Super League this weekend there was evidence to refute Mikel’s suggestion.
Champions Shanghai SIPG had probably the best example in Mikel’s former Chelsea teammate Oscar.
Now 27, the Brazilian left London for Shanghai in the same transfer window as Mikel but his time in China has been more successful.
After leading the league in assists last season, he has started where he left off and was involved in all three goals at Shanghai Stadium on Saturday night.
His pass to Elkeson was forced in for the opener and he drove the ball forward for the second before setting up LuWenjun for the third, playing a corner to the edge of the box for the forward to curl home. Jiangsu pulled two goals back but the champions made it two wins from two.
Shenzhen 2-1 Tianjin Tianhai
Across town, Odion Ighalo scored his first goal for Shanghai Shenhua. The gossip columns had linked the former Watford man with a move to Barcelona in the transfer window after he scored 21 goals for Changchun Yatai last season.
Ighalo’s new team will need a similar return this season. They slumped to a second consecutive home loss with 25-year-old Ayoub El Kaabi on the scoresheet for Hebei China Fortune in their 2-1 win.
Elsewhere, Shenzhen came from behind in dramatic finish against Tianjin Tianhai.
Colombian Harold Preciado hit an injury-time penalty to equalise for the hosts before turning provider for Mi Haolun’s late winner.
The 24-year-old was once on the fringes of the Colombia national team and he could stake his claim if he makes the step up from China League One look so effortless.
Guangzhou R&R 3-3 Dalian Yifang
Tianjin Tianhai’s goal was a screamer from Renatinho, a player who has now entered his fifth season in the CSL.
The Brazilian’s former teammates at Guangzhou R&F played out a 3-3 thriller with Dalian Yifang. Eran Zahavi, another player who has turned 30 since moving to China, scored two for the hosts with fellow Israeli striker Dia Saba, 26, also on the scoresheet.
Yannick Carrasco, linked with Arsenal in the last window, scored twice for Dalian.
In Jinan, Shandong Luneng and Henan Jianye played out a 2-2 draw.
Brazilian 22-year-old Roger Guedes got both for the hosts, while Cameroon striker Christian Bassogog, 23, had put his side ahead.
Shandong Luneng 2-2 Henan Jianye
Beijing Guoan put in the performance of the weekend with a 4-0 romp away at Chongqing Lifan.
Jonathan Viera opened the scoring in the first minute and Cedric Bakambu, who already had a goal chalked off, added the second, then Zhang Yuning scored his first goal with the third before half-time. The 21-year-old will surely have no regrets returning to China from a trio of disappointing spells in Europe. If he can fulfil his potential then he can be another player on the growing list whose career is made rather than ended in the CSL.