Nice 1-3 Lazio
October 19, 2017
The Gym stumble against a clinical Lazio
The Gym fell to defeat at home to Lazio, during the 3rd match of the Europa League (1-3). Beaten by an efficient Italian side who were full of confidence.
The clash was described as a first class bout. The encounter got underway in fine form. In a superb European atmosphere, provided by both the home side and the visitors, the Gym and Lazio delivered a great battle, even though the result didn't fall in the favour of the men from the Côte. Even though the ball that was beautifully struck by the left foot of Sneijder and victoriously buried by the head of Balotelli left the impression that the “new look” Niçois would be difficult to move (1-0, 4’).
But football has some terrible traditions which, far from belonging to fiction, regularly find themselves as reality. The five minutes that follow a goal are often described as five dangerous minutes. The Romans only needed 30 seconds to cancel out the Aiglons' lead, to the great displeasure of the Red and Black locals, who remained upstanding throughout. From the kick-off which followed the goal, Lazio reacted immediately, Milinkovic-Savic jumped alone and headed on, and Caicedo made the most of a misunderstanding between Dante-Cardinale to equalise with a poachers finish (1-1, 5’).
The lead was short-lived, but the equaliser didn't shake Lucien Favre's men. Set-up in a 3-5-1-1, with an impressive, aggressive and calm Marlon on the right-side of the three, Burner on the wing, a midfield of Lees-Melou – Mendy – Walter and Sneijder supporting Mario, they put their foot on the ball and developed a seductive game.
A game focussed on a solid Papy in front of the defence and made more fluid by an inspired Wesley, as much in his recovery work as in his movement of the ball. Opposite them, Simone Inzaghi remained loyal to his 3-5-2, but replaced, as expected, his attacking duo. Caicedo and Nani were lined-up in place of Immobile and Alberto, and the side currently 3rd in Serie A remained loyal to its reputation. During the first half, they dropped deeper, left the Niçois with the ball for most of the time, but remained dangerous when coming out from the back. Mainly playing directly over the top of the 3 centre backs.
Patric got away on the right, accelerated down the wing but pulled his shot wide (19’). Nani tried from distance and Cardi pushed away using his torso, and Radu missed the target (36’). These were the two most dangerous efforts for the Blues and proved that the Red and Blacks needed to be careful. The driven strike from an in-form Balotelli (22’), and the free-kick from Sneijder that was planted onto the head of Dante, who centred his header, but was then cleared by the opposition defence (42’), illustrated that the Romans also needed to be on guard.
After 45 minutes of quality football, the 22 players left the pitch on a level playing ground. From the start of the second half, the home side did their best to trouble their visitors. Dante found Sneijder, who did well and played Balotelli in nicely. The number 9 made the most of some poor positioning from Strakosha to intercept the ball and strike powerfully, from an impossible angle. The ball slipped wide, but the tone had been set. Or at least, that is what we thought...
Strangely, Lazio began to play further up the pitch after their return from the dressing rooms, and left spaces in behind its defence. Played in by PLM, Mario often 1 on 2 but difficult to handle, controlled with the outside of his foot, but missed the target (53’). Then Sneijder took his chance from 20 metres, but the ball was saved easily (56’). Two right-footed efforts from Mario went over the bar (61', 75'). We got the feeling that the door was going to budge and that the Italians would give way. Inzaghi threw Immobile and Alberto on after an hour, and the bad legends of football found a new (bad) demonstration.
Dominated, Lazio took advantage of a school-boy move. Caicedo began the move perfectly, almost offside, then found a deep Milinkovic-Savic, and the move came to an end with the ball in the Nice goal (1-2 65').
Despite this difficult blow, Nice didn't give up. Lucien Favre replaced Lees-Melou with Plea. He showed what he was capable of with a great shot that was dealt with by the Albanian keeper (81'). Then the coach brought on Srarfi to replace Jallet, going with four at the back. Everything would be attempted.
But Milinkovic-Savic, the man of the match, moved to the near post at a corner and headed home at the end of normal time (1-3, 89').
A frustrating ending for the unrewarded Aiglons.
Frustration almost made easier by the draw between Vitesse and Zulte, which allowed them to keep a 5 point lead on the other two members of the group.
Nice, Allianz Riviera,
OGC Nice - Lazio Rome (1-1 at half-time)
3rd match of the Europa League - 19/10/2017
21 386 spectators
Referee: Craig Thomson
Goals: Balotelli (4') for Nice ; Caicedo (5'), Milinkovic-Savic (65') for Lazio.
Cautions: Mendy (78') for Nice ; Luis Felipe (85', 89') for Lazio
OGC Nice : Cardinale - Marlon, Dante (cap), Le Marchand - Burner, Lees-Melou (Plea 71'), Mendy, Walter, Jallet (Srarfi 88') - Sneijder - Balotelli.
S.S Lazio : Strakosha - Bastos, Luis Felipe, Radu - Patric, Murgia, Di Gennaro (L. Alberto 60')