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‘Thankful’ Otubanjo beats Chukwueze to win Conference League group stage goal prize

Nigerian attacking midfielder Yusuf Otubanjo has expressed his gratitude to voting fans after winning the UEFA Europa Conference League Goal of the Group Stage prize.

The former Nigeria U-17 and U-23 international’s spectacular strike in matchday 2 was adjudged to be the best goal of the entire group stage of the competition, beating Super Eagles star Samuel Chukwueze and nine other shortlisted players and their goals.

“This is Yusuf Olaitan Otubanjo and I’m using this opportunity to thank you guys for voting and for your support,” Otubanjo, the former Julius Berger star who won FIFA U-17 World Cup silver with the Golden Eaglets in 2009, says in a video on Twitter this morning.

“I want to say we won the Goal of the Group Stage in the Conference League with the support of everyone. Thank you very much, I appreciate this love.”

UEFA calls Otubanjo’s goal ‘eye-catching’ while describing the award-winning strike.

“Yusuf Otubanjo’s eye-catching effort for Pyunik at home to Slovan Bratislava has topped the UEFA Europa Conference League Goal of the Group Stage poll, presented by Heineken,” the governing body wrote on their official website.

“Pyunik’s Matchday 2 fixture with Slovan was approaching the interval when the Nigerian forward, 30, collected the ball just inside the visitors’ half.

“He jinked past compatriot Uche Henry Agbo, strode forward and whipped a right-footed effort into the top-left corner. It made the score 2-0 and that is how it remained, the Armenian side’s first win in UEFA competition proper.

“All the top seven goals were long-range strikes of different hues. Riccardo Saponara’s crisp effort for Fiorentina at RFS on Matchday 6 finished second in the poll, with Andy Diouf’s sweet first-minute strike for Basel at home to Žalgiris third.”

Fans were asked to vote for their favourite goal among the 10 shortlisted, with voting opening on Monday and closing yesterday.

Chukwueze’s superb strike for Villarreal in the 4-3 win over Lech Poznan finished sixth in the polls.

Otubanjo, who has previously played for Atletico Madrid’s B team and RB Salzburg, joined Pyunik in July from Ararat Armenia and has contributed seven goals and four assists in 22 appearances in all competitions for the Armenian champions.

Conference League Goal of the Group Stage ranking

  1. Yusuf Otubanjo (Pyunik 2-0 Slovan Bratislava, Matchday 2)
  2. Riccardo Saponara (RFS 0-3 Fiorentina, Matchday 6)
  3. Andy Diouf (Basel 2-2 Žalgiris, Matchday 5)
  4. Yanis Hamache (Vaduz 1-2 Dnipro-1, Matchday 4)
  5. Hasan Ali Kaldırım (Hearts 0-4 İstanbul Başakşehir, Matchday 1)
  6. Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal 4-3 Lech, Matchday 1)
  7. Cristiano Biraghi (Fiorentina 5-1 Hearts, Matchday 4)
  8. Álex Baena (Hapoel Beer-Sheva 1-2 Villarreal, Matchday 2)
  9. Armend Thaqi (Sivasspor 3-4 Ballkani, Matchday 3)
  10. Kevin Friesenbichler (Hearts 2-1 RFS, Matchday 5)

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