Mahrez completes end-of-season turnaround with FA Cup triumph: Africans Abroad
With the English Premier League having concluded the weekend before, attention in the United Kingdom turned to the FA Cup final in which Riyad Mahrez's Manchester City completed a domestic treble by thrashing Watford 6-0 at Wembley.
The Algeria international was an unexpected starter in the final, continuing his late-season turnaround after having been handed an unlikely appearance for City's title-clinching victory over Brighton & Hove Albion in the final round of EPL fixtures.
The North African didn't disappoint in that match, repaying Pep Guardiola's faith with an assist and a delicious goal as the Sky Blues won 4-1 to pip Liverpool to the title.
This weekend, their margin of victory was even more emphatic, with Mahrez playing 55 minutes as the Citizens racked up a scoreline to equal Bury's 6-0 victory over Derby County in 1903 -- a record for the FA Cup final.
Up against the restored Jose Holebas, Mahrez enjoyed plenty of space and time on the ball during the first half, but he was upstaged by his replacement, Kevin De Bruyne, who took the game beyond the Hornets with a second-half masterclass.
Few would have predicted a fortnight ago that the Algeria international would have started both of City's final two matches, as both the Premier League and the FA Cup were secured, yet it's testament to the faith Guardiola retains in his record signing at Eastlands.
Nonetheless, Mahrez's return to the side in these final weeks doesn't truly compensate for what has been a disappointing maiden season at City.
Before returning to the fold against Brighton -- only his fourth league start in 2019 -- he hadn't featured since City's UEFA Champions League quarterfinal first leg defeat by Tottenham Hotspur on April 9, and appeared to have been lost in the shuffle at the Etihad Stadium.
Nonetheless, after playing his part in the domestic treble -- he scored 11 goals across the three competitions -- Mahrez can take encouragement from the likes of Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan, who enjoyed strong second seasons at City after taking their time to make their mark under Guardiola.
Mahrez's success means he becomes the first Maghrebin to win the oldest national football competition in the world game, and the second North African after Mohamed Elneny with Arsenal in 2017.
His elation at the final whistle was contrasted with Nigeria's Isaac Success, who was introduced as a 66th-minute substitute for Watford as Javi Gracia sought to salvage the tie.
The striker, who has been overlooked for the Super Eagles' Africa Cup of Nations squad, follows in the footsteps of compatriots Victor Moses (2017), Sone Aluko (2015) and Joseph Yobo (2009) as defeated finalists in English football's showpiece.
In France, Maxwel Cornet scored once and contributed two assists for Olympique Lyonnais as they thumped Caen 4-0 on Saturday to book their place in next season's Champions League.
The Ivorian wideman is enjoying a fine run of form as the season draws to a close, and has now scored four and set up a further three goals in his past four appearances for OL.
Veteran defender Jeremy Morel, who was named in Madagascar's Afcon squad, also featured for Bruno Genesio's side, and he too can now look forward to UCL football next term.
Beneath Lyon, Saint-Etienne qualified for the UEFA Europa League with a convincing 3-0 victory over OGC Nice. In the absence of suspended Wahbi Khazri, Franco-Algerian playmaker Romain Hamouma stole the show, taking the bout beyond Nice with a goal and an assist in the second half.
It's appearing increasingly likely that Nicolas Pepe will leave LOSC Lille this summer, particularly after his coach Christophe Galtier confirmed to Canal+ that the wideman would be moving in the coming months.
He certainly signed off from the Stade Pierre Mauroy in some style, scoring twice as Angers were put to the sword in a 5-0 triumph.
The brace takes the Ivorian's tally up to a staggering 22 goals and 11 assists in 37 league games this term.
On the penultimate day of the season in Italy, Kalidou Koulibaly -- another African player tipped for a high-profile summer move -- delivered an imperious display in the heart of the Napoli defence as they defeated Internazionale 4-1.
It was an all-African affair at the Carlo Castellani, where struggling Empoli secured a shock 4-1 victory over Europe-chasing Torino.
Algeria's Ismael Bennacer excelled in the heart of the park for Empoli -- creating two goal-scoring opportunities and making a series of decisive defensive contributions -- although they remain only one point clear of the dropzone with one match left to play.
Two Ghana midfielders experienced mixed fortunes in La Liga, with Thomas producing an error-strewn display in the heart of Atletico Madrid's midfield as they were held 2-2 at Levante.
The Black Stars' powerhouse lost possession when another -- increasingly characteristic -- lapse in concentration proved costly.
By contrast, Mubarak Wakaso scored his first goal of the season -- a thumping first-half volley -- to open the scoring against Girona as Deportivo Alaves secured a 2-1 victory to confirm their opponents' relegation.
"Great way to finish the season with my first goal [for] Deportivo Alaves," Wakaso posted on Instagram. "Thanks to everyone, especially to Allah, my family, friends and my teammates, [and] fans for the wonderful season we had together."
Bayern Munich clinched the Bundesliga title on the final day with a 5-1 victory over Sebastian Haller's Eintracht Frankfurt, with the German-Ivorian forward pulling a goal back for the visitors.
The victory completed a remarkable comeback for Bayern, who had trailed rivals Borussia Dortmund by nine points after 12 matches.
BVB defeated Borussia Monchengladbach 2-0 on the final day, but they will surely rue the season-ending injury picked up by on-loan Morocco full-back Achraf Hakimi, who broke a metatarsal after coming on as a substitute against Wolfsburg on Matchday 27.
Dortmund were thumped 5-0 by Bayern in their next match, the decisive defeat in the title race.
In-form Algeria striker Ishak Belfodil also ended the season with a goal, but he was unable to prevent Hoffenheim falling to a 4-2 come-from-behind defeat away at Mainz.