Nice 1-2 Troyes
August 11, 2017
The Gym stumble
Showing less cutting edge than their clinical promoted opponents, the Gym were caught our by Troyes in the first home outing of the season (1-2).
One week after kicking off their Ligue 1 Conforama campaign with defeat to Saint-Etienne, the Gym had their hearts set on a return to winning ways on home turf. But they failed to accomplish their mission and have a fistful of regrets. In the heat of a late afternoon in summer, they nonetheless took immediate charge of the ball in a bid to take an early lead. New arrival Allan Saint-Maximin proved that he has pace to burn, tearing it up on the left of Lucien Favre's 4-2-3-1, which featured Mika Seri returning to his duties in the middle of the park. Saint-Maximin shone early, making several dangerous runs down the flank and carving out his new side's first chance. Played in by Mika Seri, he sped past his marker to face Samassa one-on-one, but his show was blocked by the opposition 'keeper (18').
Before this first big chance, Bassem Srarfi - playing as a number 10 - also proved dangerous on the ten-minute mark. In the middle, the Tunisian playmaker single-handedly led the Troyes defence a merry dance but then lacked that certain something with the finish.
In the middle of a half they largely dominated, Lucien Favre's men were almost caught out by a fine shot from Dingomé, which Cardi pawed wide (23'). But the move proved that, despite Nice's dominance, it would be no walk in the park against a visiting side set to defend but also hit hard on the counter. And what followed hammered that point home. Just before the break, Mika Seri broke through the lines and released Alassane Plea, but the number 14's angled shot fizzed across the face of goal (33').
The uncertainty transformed into pressure when the promoted side surprised the Aiglons early in the second half - despite a big chance for Srarfi, who fired straight at Samassa just after the Troyes 'keeper had parried a swerving shot from Seri (48'). Then Troyes opened the scoring with a superb piece of opportunism. Thirty metres out, the ageless Benjamin Nivet looked up and swept a long pass forward for Niane in behind the Nice defence. Battling with Dante as Cardinale came off his line, the Malian saw his chance and took it perfectly, getting his boot to the ball first and deftly lobbing it over the Nice glovesman and into the back of the empty net (0-1,54'). Cruel but undeniable. But, with Saint-Maximin and Seri leading the way, the Aiglons got back on level terms before doubt could creep in. Pulling the strings in the middle of the park, the Ivorian colonel released Pierre Lees-Melou, who broke into the area and, mid-step-over, was brought down by Vizcarrondo. Alassane Plea opened his account for the season without hesitation from the resulting penalty, hammering it hard and low in to the bottom left-hand corner (1-1, 64').
The gap was closed but the situation remained the same: Nice dominated while Troyes defended low without cracking. Naturally, this left the onus on the home side… and Yoan Cardinale stepped up with a crucial save low to his left from Grandsir's effort (67'). Aiglons boss Lucien Favre brought on Mahou and Jallet for Srarfi and Sarr. Nice pushed hard - without exposing themselves - and thought to have taken the lead when Dante leapt at a poor clearance from Samassa, but Traoré beat the Brazilian to the ball to save Troyes' skin with 20 minutes to go.
However, as long as Nice failed to kill off the match, they were vulnerable, and the unthinkable finally happened. From a Darbion centre, Niane chested the ball down and Khaoui finished it off first time to convert his first touch in to three points (86'). Agonising.
After a delicate start to their Ligue 1 Conforama campaign, the Niçois will have to turn the page and get right back to business for next Wednesday's Champions League play-off first leg in Naples.
Nice, Allianz Riviera,
OGC Nice 1-2 ESTAC Troyes (0-0 at half-time)
Ligue 1 Conforama Week 2 - 11/08/2017
Referee: Jérôme Miguelgorry
Goals: Plea (62') for Nice; Niane (54') and Khaoui (86') for Troyes
Yellow cards: Koziello (63'), Dante (90') for Nice; Vizcarrondo (60'), Samassa (62') and Hérelle (77') for Troyes.
OGC Nice: Cardinale - Souquet, Dante (cap), Le Marchand, Sarr (Jallet 70') - Koziello, Seri - Lees-Melou (Marcel 88'), Srarfi (Mahou 60'), Saint-Maximin - Plea.
Troyes: Samassa - Deplagne, Hérelle, Vizcarrondo, Traoré - Bellugou (Confais 80'), Dingomé - Grandsir (Khaoui 84'), Nivet (cap) (Azamoum 70'), Darbion - Niane