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Africans Abroad: Ismaila Sarr shows true worth as Watford humble Liverpool

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Is Ismaila Sarr a future Premier League star? (2:10)

The FC crew examine Ismaila Sarr's potential following his two-goal performance for Watford vs. Liverpool. (2:10)

English Premier League

Ismaila Sarr delivered the most momentous performance of his career on Saturday, netting twice as English Premier League strugglers Watford stunned champions-elect Liverpool, while Mbwana Samatta's historic Carabao Cup final goal wasn't enough for Aston Villa to upset Manchester City.

Heading into the weekend's meeting with the Hornets at Vicarage Road, the Reds' run in the top flight had been imperious, with Jurgen Klopp's side equalling Manchester City's record winning streak of 18 matches and establishing the second-longest run without defeat in the division's history.

They hadn't lost a match in 44 league fixtures, since falling to City in January 2019, and they were on course to equal Preston North End and Arsenal's 'Invincibles' seasons... until they came up against Watford and Sarr.

The Senegal winger has shown only glimpses of the quality that he demonstrated in France with Stade Rennais since moving to Hertfordshire for £25 million, and had only registered three goals before the weekend

However, he was the chief protagonist in a famous triumph, with Liverpool -- particularly Virgil van Dijk -- unable to deal with the speedster before he was replaced with eight minutes on the clock.

There had already been warning signs before Sarr marked his return from a hamstring injury by breaking the deadlock in the 54th minute, finishing past Alisson from close range after being picked out by the excellent Abdoulaye Doucoure, who had the determination to beat the Reds' defenders to the ball.

Six minutes later, Sarr doubled his tally -- and Watford's lead -- running onto a through-ball from Troy Deeney, keeping his head, and calmly lifting the ball above the sprawling keeper.

To round off the victory, Sarr latched onto an underwhelming backpass from Trent Alexander-Arnold, sent through Deeney, and wheeled away in celebration as the Hornets skipper secured all three points.

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Sarr, who expressed regret after the match that he didn't complete his hat-trick, should indeed have had a third when he sent a straightforward effort beyond the post.

The West African's two-goal showing -- the first time a player has struck a brace against Liverpool since Marcus Rashford two years ago this month -- won't knock the Merseysiders off their title-winning course, but it helped to lift Watford out of the relegation zone and could be the catalyst for a late-season survival act.

Elsewhere, a fine Serge Aurier effort wasn't enough to prevent Tottenham Hotspur from falling 3-2 at home against Wolverhampton Wanderers, while Jordan Ayew equalled his personal best for a Premier League season - seven -- with the only goal as Crystal Palace won 1-0 at rivals Brighton & Hove Albion.

"We have a target to win every game we play in and to try and finish as high as possible," Jordan told Palace's website. "[Saturday] was a very difficult game, and I think we did what we had to do and finally won the game.

"We did our maximum best, we did everything and finally came out with the three points."

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English Carabao Cup Final

Tanzania's Mbwana Samatta made history when he became the first East African player to score in the League Cup final as he halved Manchester City's two-goal advantage just before halftime at Wembley on Sunday.

Having revealed before the game that he watches videos of Didier Drogba in action before matches, Samatta followed in the Ivorian legend's footsteps to become the fifth African goalscorer in the fixture's history.

Samatta, the only player to score with a header in the league for Villa this term, met Anwar El Ghazi's cross following a slip from John Stones to send a diving effort beyond Claudio Bravo and offer hope that they could yet battle back after going two goals down.

It wasn't to be for Tanzania's top footballing export, as he, Marvelous Nakamba, Ahmed Elmohamady and Trezeguet were left to rue a 2-1 defeat that was ultimately narrower than many had expected.

Riyad Mahrez, an unused substitute for City, meanwhile, won his fifth piece of silverware since moving to the Etihad Stadium.

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German Bundesliga

The German title race gets more exciting by the week, and matchday 24 was no different as Dutch-Nigerian wunderkind Joshua Zirkzee netted in Bayern Munich's 6-0 demolition of Hoffenheim, with the visitors hitting four inside the first 33 minutes.

Christopher Nkunku's fine assist -- capping off another superb midfield showing -- couldn't prevent RB Leipzig, in second, losing ground on the leaders, as they were held 1-1 at home by Bayer Leverkusen.

However, Borussia Dortmund moved to within one point of Leipzig -- and four off the leaders --with a 1-0 victory over Freiburg.

Achraf Hakimi deserves credit for another lively display down the right flank, although the outstanding performer was Franco-Ivorian defender Dan-Axel Zagadou.

Playing on the left side of a back three, the 20-year-old registered three tackles and four interceptions, and won three aerial battles -- all game-highs -- as he continued to emerge as one of the finest young defenders in the European game.

In Augsburg, Ramy Bensebaini's opener sent Borussia Monchengladbach on their way to a 3-2 triumph as they kept pace with the top three, and maintained their title aspirations.

Spanish Primera Division

Sunday's El Clasico dominated the attention in Spain, but there was African intrigue lower down the table with mixed fortunes for the continent's stars.

The top performer of the weekend was Sevilla new boy Youssef En-Nesyri, who snatched three points at the death with a 94th-minute winner against Osasuna.

Goals from En-Nesyri and Lucas Ocampos, coupled with Sergio Herrera's red card for the visitors had put Sevilla firmly in control on the hour mark before a second-half collapse as Osasuna pulled it back to 2-2.

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However, En-Nesyri's marriage of physicality, pace and clinical finishing proved too much for the 10 men, the Morocco international extending his run to three goals in six games for his new club.

Atletico Madrid dropped out of the top four after they were held 1-1 at Espanyol, where Thomas Partey was a commanding presence in midfield but collected a first-half booking thaty means he will now face a ban. Only Granada's Roberto Soldado has more yellow cards this term than the Ghanaian, on 10.

Over in the Balearic Islands, Djene Dakonam was in typically inspiring form in the heart of Getafe's defence as the La Liga surprise package won 1-0 at Real Mallorca to unseat Atletico in the top four. Nigeria's Oghenekaro Etebo made a series of vital defensive contributions late on to see Getafe over the line for their 13th victory of the campaign.

Italian Serie A

The footballing schedule in Italy was gutted due to the spread of coronavirus, but Lazio were in action and took advantage of Juventus' inactivity to move top with a 2-0 victory over Musa Barrow's Bologna.

Nicolas Nkoulou was unable to prevent Torino falling to a 2-1 loss at Napoli, and another Cameroonian, Adrien Tameze, made a brief cameo -- his second Serie A appearance -- as Atalanta smashed Lecce 7-2 away.

French Ligue 1

Paris Saint-Germain thumped Dijon 4-0 in the early kick-off as they warmed up for Wednesday's French Cup semifinal against Olympique Lyonnais, who downed Saint-Etienne 2-0 thanks to a Moussa Dembele double.

PSG's victory provided a fine response to critics, who have accused the reigning champions of lacking unity amid rumours of dressing room unrest.

"You could say [the group are more unified than ever]," midfielder Idrissa Gueye told Canal+, "but the important thing is to display it on the pitch. For the moment, things are going well but we still have some matches to do that."

Unity is not a word that can be used to describe Toulouse at the moment, as Rennes' Faitout Maouassa scored in a 2-0 defeat for Le TFC - their fifth on the bounce.

"We need to see fans who are coming to support their team; at one point it felt like we were playing 13 against 11," Max Gradel complained to beIN Sports.

"Even opposition players are laughing about it.

"I am very frustrated today, but frankly, we have the impression that they've let us down."

Elsewhere, Adam Ounas rescued a point for OGC Nice at Bordeaux, Stephane Bahoken scored the only goal of the game as Angers won at Brest, and Farid Boulaya's 26th-minute goal was all that was required for Metz to down Amiens.