Nice 2-2 Angers
September 22, 2017
Frustrating but satisfying
At the end of an intense 7th game of Ligue 1 in which each side had the better of one of the halves, Nice and Angers leave each other on level terms (2-2). Frustrating yet at the same time satisfying.
A very close block and some devastating attacks. A first goal coming from a break from Toko Ekambi. The idea that “the SCO don’t suit the Gym” and the shivers continued. The first period of the game resembled the previous encounter of the two sides (won by the men from the west in May). But football remains an inexact science. Uncertain. 4 months later, the scenario was different, even if 1000 unforeseen developments made it imperceptible from beginning to end.
Against an opponent (set-up in a 5-4-1) as applied and formidable at the breakdown, it was important to get off to a good start. A cross-shot from Arnaud Souquet in the 2nd minute could have offered this precious chance. It could have forced the SCO to come out and attack, leaving spaces in behind, for the 4-4-2 that Lucien Favre loves. But the full-back’s strike struck Letellier’s bar, denying the impressive effort.
After this, Angers came back strongly. A free-kick from Fulgini was victoriously converted by the head of Pavlovic (0-1, 12'). Jallet, after having perfectly controlled a pass from Mendy, cut inside but missed the target (15’).
After this impressive move, Nice, despite the freshness of this first autumnal evening, got rather hot under the collar. Cardi’ smartly dealt with a strike from Toko Ekambi from 30 metres (23'). Shortly after, the Cameroon international doubled the lead after he converted a cross from Andreu (0-2, 34’). The deserved reward for an omnipresent side in every dual and respecting, to the letter, the game plan they were sent out with.
But given that a match depends on, the coming together of multiple details, each detail is, of course, worth its weight in gold. This came to play at the end of the first half, and fell in the Red and Black’s favour. Whilst the excellent Tait missed the target (32’) and Toko Ekambi put Cardinale under pressure (36’); at the moment at which the Allianz was holding its breath that Stéphane Moulin’s side wouldn’t put an end to the suspense, the hosts got one back. A corner from Lees-Melou was flicked on by St-Maximin and hit the hand of Mangani. Mr Letexier pointed to the penalty spot and Mario Balotelli didn’t disappoint (1-2, 39’).
The Italian superhero, who had already been at the heart of Nice’s best opportunity of the first 45 minutes thanks to a deflection (which finished with a shot from Plea blocked by Thomas, 30’), kept his side in the game. Which was the case for 95 minutes.
At the break, the Gym looked to be happy to “still be alive” when heading back to the dressing rooms. Their spirits slightly troubled by the impact of the Angers side, but still right in the game.
The start of the second half caused further worrying moments. But Christophe Jallet was there to block Mangani’s free-kick from 20 metres, then Cardinale pulled out another save when faced with Tait in the first 5 minutes after kick-off.
Then Koziello combined with Jallet, who flicked on for Mario, just before the hour mark. The Italian missed the target, but the move served as a wake-up call for the home side. A wake-up call that only came through the inspiration of the n°9, including his anger, which got his teammates going. Alassane Plea, making the most of charge from St-Maximin, missed the target, but confirmed the Niçois’ good intentions (59'). Progressively, they began to take control of things. Super Mario was pulled down in the box by Pavlovic off the ball, but didn’t get a penalty (65').
The Angers defence spent so much time trying to get the Italian sent off, that they even offered the equaliser to the Aiglons. As the electricity was filling the terraces of the Allianz, Mario (once again) fired his free-kick towards goal but it was smartly turned away by the opposition’s goalkeeper. Immediately after, Lees-Melou sent in a corner, the florescent Yellows rushed towards the ball and Traoré turned the ball into his own net (2-2, 76').
In an exciting last quarter of an hour, Nice, galvanised by its supporters, pushed, pushed and pushed again. SCO seemed to be moments away from collapsing but held on. In the 88th minute, Max Le Marchand, making the most of a deflected free-kick taken by Dante, had the chance to win the game, when he was alone on the penalty spot. The centre-back hit with his right but just pulled his strike wide of the goal. Then Dante, rose higher than everyone else in the dying stages of the game and couldn’t find the target with his header (93'). Finally, Plea held on, spun and then struck strongly, but Letellier pulled out a decisive save at the end of added time.
Despite its desire, the Gym couldn’t get the goal. Its reaction and desire, allowed them to secure an extra point.
Which at the same time is satisfying but equally frustrating.
Nice, Allianz Riviera,
OGC Nice 2-2 Angers SCO (1-2 at half-time)
7th game of L1 - 22/09/2017
18 023 spectators
Referee: François Letexier
Buts: Balotelli (39' pen), Traoré O.G. (77') for Nice ; Pavlovic (12'), Toko-Ekambi (34') for Angers
Bookings: Le Marchand (49'), Balotelli (63'), Cardinale (72') for Nice ; Tahrat (40'), Pavlovic (75') for Angers
OGC Nice: Cardinale - Souquet, Dante (cap), Le Marchand, Jallet - St-Maximin, Koziello (Tameze 69'), Mendy, Lees-Melou - Plea, Balotelli.
Angers SCO: Letellier - Manceau, Pavlovic, Traoré, Thomas, Andreu - Tait (Sunu 79'), Tahrat (Santamaria 51'), Mangani - Fulgini (Capelle 60'), Toko-Ekambi.