Toulouse 1-2 Nice
November 29, 2017
Trailing from the start of the game, reduced to 10, saved from 2-0 by Benitez stopping a penalty, the Aiglons finished the game with guts, to turn around the situation and to set an example in their plan of abnegation. They also get themselves out of the relegation zone.
Although it is far from being the only explanation for the Aiglons’ very complicated start to the season, it is undeniable that luck has been evading the men from the Côte since the beginning of the campaign. The win at the Stadium, more than the (incredibly) important 3 points that they take home, rewarded the abnegation and the desire of a side that never gave up, despite certain elements that went against them and an evident lack of confidence. Maybe it’s a sign that the Gym have come out the other side.
Offensively decimated (Plea suspended, Sneijder and Ganago injured and the match coming too soon for Saint-Maximin to start), organised in a 4-3-3 which looked more like a 4-5-1, Lucien Favre’s side was looking to reassure itself at the Stadium, after a heavy defeat against Lyon. With this in mind, what did they need to avoid? Conceding an early goal. That is, however, what happened in the 3rd minute, as Souquet lost the ball after having been put under pressure after a poorly weighted pass from Walter. Blin was quicker, his cross found Delort who got in front of Jallet and scored from close range. A nightmare scenario for the Gym, who were full of doubt. The men from Toulouse, you have to say, were barely more elegant before the encounter. With only a two point lead on OGCN and just two wins in their last 10 games, the men from Dupraz were also on the lookout for confidence. That may explain why, despite the small lead, they couldn’t keep up against the Aiglons pressure.
The Nice reactions during the first half were timid. Lees-Melou (blocked, 23'), Tameze from a header from a corner (25') or Balotelli from far (28') all tried to cause problems, but without really worrying Lafont. The home side didn’t seem the most inspired but were going to benefit from a little help. Booked twice in 5 minutes, captain, Dante would leave his teammates down to ten, before the end of the first half. Lucien Favre waited for the break to reorganise his side, with the arrival of Malang Sarr to replace Rémi Walter.
Another penalty saved by Benitez
In a 4-4-1, the Gym didn’t have the time to push forward before they conceded a idiotic penalty, in an aerial duel with Delort - Le Marchand, the ball then unintentionally blocked the ball with his hand (48'). A decision against the Aiglons by Mr. Hamel, which would be of no consequence given that Walter Benitez, already decisive from the spot ten days ago against Caen, pushed away the effort from Jimmy Durmaz! It was the first turning point of the game. Even though they were still trailing, the Aiglons made the most of this to get going. It was first Balotelli, at the end of a move started by Seri and continued by Souquet, which put Lafont into difficulty in the air (53'). Then Lees-Melou, who recovered a mis-controlled ball from the Italian, to break in and get a strike away that went only centimetres to the side of a beaten Alban Lafont’s post.
The Red and Blacks, more stylish, were even more so after the hour mark, with the return from injury of Allan Saint-Maximin, who hadn’t played in a month. From his first touch, the winger got going past Kelvin Amian. It was finally on the right hand side of the Nice attack that the game changed. However, Saint-Maximin had just changed wings. But it was Arnaud Souquet, played in deep, who got past Amian before being brought down in the box. A penalty for the Gym and a red card for the Violets’ defender. Mario Balotelli didn’t tremble, and a powerful strike got the sides back onto level terms.
At 10 against 10, spaces became more and more prevalent, and the dynamic was clearly for the Niçois. Galvanised by the equaliser, the Aiglons intensified their pressing in the middle of the pitch, putting Toulouse under pressure to make a mistake. And finally, in the dying moments of the game, as Saint-Maximin opened up superbly for Bassem Srarfi, who had also come on towards the end of the game, struck a volley to smash home and secure a breath of fresh air for the Gym, ten days after having suffered the same situation at Caen. The first goal in a competitive game in a Nice shirt for the Tunisian international, at the best of times.
Saturday, against the bottom side in the league, FC Metz, the Gym will have to back up this victory to head towards the area of the table that their status would warrant.
Toulouse FC 1-2 OGC Nice (half-time 1-0)
Ligue 1 Week 15 - 29/11/2017
Referee: Johan Hamel
Goals: Delort (3') for Toulouse ; Balotelli (80' sp), Srarfi (90'+2) for Nice
Yellow cards: Moubandje (29'), Cahuzac (75'), Gradel (90') for Toulouse ; Dante (35'), Le Marchand (48') Jallet (58') for Nice
Red cards: Amian (80') for Toulouse ; Dante (40') for Nice
Toulouse FC: Lafont - Amian, Diop (cap.), Jullien, Moubandje (Yago, 52') - Blin, Bodiger (Cahuzac, 57'), Durmaz (Sylla, 81'), Gradel - Delort, Jean
OGC Nice: Benitez - Souquet, Dante (cap.), Le Marchand, Jallet - Koziello (Saint-Maximin, 60'), Tameze, Seri - Walter (Sarr, 46'), Balotelli, Lees-Melou (Srarfi, 79')