Mohamed Salah, Nigeria trio shine as Premier League returns

Africa's stars delivered outstanding performances in the Premier League this opening weekend, with Mohamed Salah, Trevor Chalobah and Emmanuel Dennis among the outstanding performers.

Elsewhere, Japhet Tanganga and Alex Iwobi made notable contributions to their teams' victories, while across the rest of Europe, the likes of Moses Simon and Youssef En-Nesyri are beginning the new seasons in style.

But first, to England!

In the Premier League, Salah was the pick of the bunch during a thrilling opening weekend, maintaining his outstanding matchday one record as Liverpool dispatched Norwich City 3-0 away.

Few things are as certain in the top flight as the Egypt superstar coming out of the blocks quickly at the start of each campaign, and his goal against the Canaries -- the Reds' third of the evening -- set a new Premier League record.

In finding the net -- a delightful left-footed effort to beat Tim Krul -- Salah became the first player to score on the first day of the season in five consecutive years, having netted on matchday one in each campaign stretching back to his arrival at Anfield in 2017-18.

While Liverpool's standards undoubtedly slipped last year, Salah maintained his excellent levels and ended the year with 22 goals -- equalling his Golden Boot-worthy haul in the 2018-19 campaign.

He certainly looked like he was at his best on Saturday, contributing the assists for Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino's goals before rounding off the victory with a goal of his own.

Sadio Mane also created three goalscoring chances during a lively display, while Joel Matip and Naby Keita caught the eye in starting roles for the 2020 champions.

While Salah may have had the African performance of the weekend, Chelsea's Chalobah definitely had the moment of the weekend as the Blues defeated Crystal Palace 3-0 at Stamford Bridge.

The Anglo-Sierra Leonean centre-back has been one of the club's extensive 'loan army' in recent years -- spending last year at FC Lorient in France -- but an impressive series of performances in preseason has led to a promotion firmly into Thomas Tuchel's plans.

The German coach handed the 22-year-old -- brother of Chelsea old boy Nathaniel -- his Premier League debut on Saturday, and Chalobah duly responded to his manager's faith by adding the Blues' second.

Advancing calmly in the 58th minute in the opposition half, after being found by Matteo Kovacic, the defender thundered home a low 25-yard drive beyond Vicente Guaita to add Chelsea's third in a thoroughly one-sided display, before breaking down in teary celebration at the momentous moment.

"I couldn't believe when the ball went in," Chalobah told BBC Radio 5 Live. "I didn't know it went in until the crowd cheered. It was a surreal moment.

"It's been an amazing week for me. I've been at this club since I was eight. Playing at Stamford Bridge where I have been watching a lot of games, being a ball boy, watching games with my family... finally playing here is amazing."

Over at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, right-back Tanganga is another young African-origin defender winning over many admirers at the club where he's been since boyhood.

Looking at the line-ups ahead of Spurs' opener against Manchester City on Sunday, the Anglo-Congolese defender appeared to have his work cut out -- did any player in the division have a tougher assignment than trying to silence Raheem Sterling and Jack Grealish on MD1?

Yet Tanganga, as he demonstrated on his league debut under Jose Mourinho when tasked with neutralising Mane and Liverpool, relishes one-on-one combat with nimble, technical widemen.

He walked a fine line at times as he hassled and harried -- both the referee and Hugo Lloris had to remind Tanganga of the need to halt his fouling during a tempestuous first half -- but managed to silence both England internationals with a bold and aggressive display.

No player on the pitch won possession back more times [five] than the 22-year-old during the contest, and the youngster went from being a potential point of weakness when the teamsheets were revealed to setting the tone for the Lilwhites in a 1-0 victory for Nuno Espirito Santo's side.

"All the team did very well, but Japhet was huge today," the incoming coach said after the match. "He faced too many one on ones today against fantastic players and he dealt fantastically with the situation."

If Watford are to survive relegation from the Premier League this season, they will surely need a big contribution from their hefty African contingent this term.

Seven of their starting XI against Aston Villa on Saturday were African or African-origin players, and debutant Emmanuel Dennis was particularly eye-catching as he weighed in with a goal and an assist for his new club.

The striker's arrival raised a few eyebrows when he was signed by the Hornets. After all, he failed to net a single league goal last term, and only managed to generate headlines when he was disciplined by Club Brugge after petulantly storming off the team bus after finding someone in his seat.

Against Villa, however, he was sensational, opening the scoring in the 10th minute after playing a one-two off Villa defender Ezri Konsa before burying the ball past Emiliano Martinez after being picked out by Ismaila Sarr.

The roles were then reversed just before half time, as Sarr -- such a persistent threat for the Villa backline -- received a ball from Dennis and then sent a deflected effort beyond the Midlanders' stopper.

Watford have had mixed fortunes with Nigerian strikers over the years -- Odion Ighalo and Isaac Success being at opposite ends of the spectrum -- but there can be genuine optimism that Dennis the Menace can fire them clear of the dropzone.

Finally to Everton, where the club are enjoying a reboot under Rafael Benitez following the premature departure of previous boss Carlo Ancelotti.

They began the new season with a 3-1 come-from-behind victory over Southampton, with a new wing-focused attacking approach eventually winning over supporters during a punchy second half.

The summer arrivals of Demarai Gray and Andros Townsend -- both of whom started on Saturday -- raises yet more concerns about Alex Iwobi's first-team prospects at Goodison Park, particularly considering James Rodriguez's ongoing presence at the club.

He began the season as a substitute, but was introduced in the 70th minute by Benitez as Everton, who had equalised through Richarlison, sought to turn the contest firmly in their favour.

It was Iwobi who made the breakthrough. Six minutes after his arrival, he nodded Seamus Coleman's dink towards the advancing Abdoulaye Doucoure, and the Franco-Malian midfielder slammed home into the top corner.

Moments later, Iwobi was again at the heart of the turnaround, making space with a sharp interplay with Richarlison, before the Brazilian crossed for Dominic Calvert-Lewin to head home the Toffees' third.

It was the kind of free-flowing attacking contribution that has been all too rare from Iwobi during his time at Goodison, but perhaps the arrival of Benitez will herald a change in the Nigerian's fortunes.

Across the pond...

While England took centre stage this weekend, there were outstanding African contributions across Europe's other major leagues.

Notably, Super Eagles winger Moses Simon registered two assists for Nantes as they defeated Metz 2-0 as his fine start to the campaign continued, while Guinea's Mohamed Bayo continues to take to Ligue 1 like a duck to water. He has three goals in his first two top flight outings after scoring twice in Clermont's 2-0 victory over Troyes.

Maxwel Cornet was sent off for a second bookable offence as Olympique Lyonnais were stunned 3-0 at Angers, while Ghana centre-back Alexander Djiku also saw red -- also for two yellow cards -- as Strasbourg were defeated 4-2 at Paris Saint-Germain.

In Spain, Youssef En-Nesyri was Sevilla's star performer, netting a penalty then registering an assist for Erik Lamela as the hosts thumped 10-man Rayo Vallecano 3-0 to start the campaign stronger.

For Kevin-Prince Boateng, however, there was to be no fairytale second debut for Hertha Berlin, as they were beaten 3-1 at FC Koln. The former Ghana midfielder played just under an hour in a central midfield role, but looked off the pace to start the new campaign.

There was more joy in Germany for Nigeria's Taiwo Awoniyi, who ended his six-year stint at Liverpool to sign for Union Berlin permanently. He marked his second debut for the club with the opener as they drew 1-1 with Bayer Leverkusen.