When the draws for the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League group stage are conducted in Monaco on Friday, Norwegian champions Rosenborg BK will be among the numbers after they successfully eliminated last season’s beaten finalists Ajax FC on Thursday night.
Much of the credit for Rosenborg’s success though must rightfully go to their Nigerian summer signing, Samuel Adegbenro.
In less than two weeks of the official announcement of Adegbenro’s signing from fellow Eliteserien side Viking, the Osun State, Nigeria born attacker has already made a lasting impact in the minds of Rosenborg faithful.
Two days after the announcement, Adegbenro made an astounding start to his Rosenborg career at the famous Amsterdam Arena where his side visited hosts Ajax in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League playoff round.
With scores still at 0-0, Rosenborg manager Kåre Ingebrigtsen called on his recent acquisition for his baptism of fire in place of combustive winger Yann-Erik de Lanlay. Adegbenro took it in his stride and within nine minutes of his debut scored what turned out to be the lone goal in the first leg and handed his side a surreal advantage going into the return fixture in Norway.
The 21-year old latched on to another substitute Mathias Vilhjálmsson’s through ball and deftly lifted the ball over Ajax’s advancing Cameroonian goalkeeper Andre Onana and into the corner of the net.
The former Kwara United star would then make his full debut for Rosenborg in their shock 0-1 loss to Haugesund on Sunday, completing the full 90 minutes.
Adegbenro found himself back on the bench for Thursday night’s visit of Ajax to the Lerkendal Stadion and yet again, had to come to the rescue of his side. With the visitors leading 2-1 and with the away goals advantage, Adegbenro was called on by his manager once again, at exactly the same minute he was introduced in the first leg.
Whether by luck or providence, the Prime FC of Osogbo product duly obliged with two goals in the final ten minutes of the game.
The decisive third, an absolute stunner which saw the flamboyant winger evade a sliding challenge, 30 meters away from goal, drove inside the penalty box and beat two further opponents, cutting into his favourite right foot to fire low beyond Onana.
It was only his second game in front of Rosenborg fans at home and such performance was necessary to banish the thoughts of Sunday’s home loss to Haugesund. With ten matches to spare in the league season, Adegbenro’s contributions should come in handy for the table-topping side as they bid for their third league title in a row.