September 17, (THEWILL) – It was a Man of the Match performance for Nigeria’s Super Eagles’ forward Paul Onuachu for his Belgium side Racing Genk in Thursday’s Group H opener of the UEFA Europa League competition as he scored a last gasp goal to ensure all the three points in their away fixture against Rapid Vienna.
At the Allianz Stadion in Wien, Austria, the 6’7″ frontman was at the heart of every constructive move towards finding a goal for Genk, making himself a troublemaker for the Rapid Vienna defense that he earned himself a yellow card in the 79th minute for his troubles.
As the centre forward that Genk manager John van den Brom had entrusted with the onerous responsibility of making the difference in the attack of the Belgium side, Onuachu had opportunities to open the scoring earlier on in the match. However, some of the clinical edge that saw him become the leading scorer in all of Belgium last season was lacking.
Twice in the first half, he had openings to create the opener but fired wide of goal. In the 13th minute, Onuachu had a good chance for the visitors, when he controlled a cross from the left but he lacked the composure to get a good direction on the shot and instead swung wildly at the ball with his left foot so that he scuffed his shot past the post.
Again, in the 39th minute, the persistent Nigeria international was at it with another headache for the Rapid Vienna backline. The tall attacker spun right of the penalty spot to control the ball with an efficiency belying his physique, before letting a fierce drive go goalward. However, it flew past the angle of post and bar.
Onuachu had the ball in the net for the visitors in the 68th minute but the decision to award the goal was reviewed by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR). After the review, it was struck off and the game continued 0-0.
The Genk side kept the hosts from approaching their goal but there were some disturbing moments especially as Rapid Vienna centre forward Taxiarchis Fountas increased the chances of getting one for the home side as the game progressed in the second half without any goals to celebrate.
After the clock hit 90 minutes and the game entered injury time, it was nearly settled that both sides had cancelled out each other and there were no goals to be had for a share of the spoils, until the Belgian league Goal King proved that he could be relied on to produce the goods no matter how late in the game it came.
Contributing to the build-up and the final product, Onuachu controlled the ball a minute into injury time and spread it wide right to teammate Junya Ito before loping into the area for a one-two with the Japanese. He wasted no time to fire a first-time shot low into the corner beyond Paul Gartler’s reach.
It was only deserving for Onuachu to be on the scoresheet and win the man of the match, having gone close twice and seen another goal ruled out by VAR. His last minute goal stood and that was all Genk needed to return home victorious and pleased to have their goal-getter back in his typical form continuing from the goal he scored in their UEFA Champions League qualifying match against Shakhtar Donest.
Genk ended matchday one second in Group H with the three points from their match the same as group leaders West Ham, who defeated Dinamo Zagreb 2-0 at the Stadion Maksimir in Zagreb, Croatia on Thursday.
Genk will next host Zagreb on September 30 at their Luminus Arena home grounds where, hopefully, Onuachu can continue to sharpen his goal-scoring for this season.