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The Gym qualify after the suspense

Lille 1-1 Nice (2-3 on penalties)

December 14, 2017

The Gym qualify after the suspense

Trailing from the start of the game, like against Nantes, the Gym were able to react in the second half. And with a superb Cardinale, they secured their ticket for the quarter finals on penalties.

“The shortest route to the final”. On Sunday, in the corridors of La Beaujoire, Mika Seri reminded us that he and his teammates weren’t intending to give the Coupe de la Ligue away. Even though the final - in Bordeaux this season - is still a way off, the Aiglons got passed the obstacle that Lille presented on Wednesday evening and will now have the privilege of welcoming their neighbours from Monaco for a quarter final which promises to be interesting.

Like his Ivorian midfielder, Lucien Favre demonstrated his strategy with a limited turnover of players and a very competitive side, set-up in a 4-3-3 like they were 15 days ago. Another habit, but a less effective one is that the Red and Blacks were caught out at the start of the match by Luiz Araujo, who got in between Dante and Le Marchand before striking past Cardinale from close-range (1-0, 7’).

On a mediocre pitch, the two sides were guilty of making multiple technical errors and the the game struggled to get going. But the Aiglons, more sure of their qualities since their rise up the table, didn’t panic. Balotelli, after some good service from Makengo would be the first to go close, with his head (12’). Plea shot but found an impeccable Koffi, who managed to palm away a strike which seemed destined for the back of the net (38’). After having escaped the worse following a poor pass from Souquet which almost benefitted Mendyl (26’), the Gym put the foot on the accelerator. Balotelli (42’) then Srarfi (44’) tried their luck but didn’t manage to get the equaliser before the break.

It was to be the same scenario from the get-go in the second half. The Gym dominated possession (64% for the whole match), set themselves up in the LOSC half and looked to find a weakness. Koffi, the usual remplacement for Maignan, kept his side in it by denying Srarfi (51’) and Balotelli (55’). He could do nothing, however, with an impressive strike from the Italian, who was well set-up by Souquet. A move which had a certain ressemblance to the winning goal Super Mario scored last Sunday against Nantes (1-1, 58’).

There were 30 minutes to play, LOSC seemed already resigned to a penalty shootout. Or the counter. The Nordistes almost got the perfect chance after a corner was poorly dealt with by the Gym and was almost turned home by El Ghazi but would end up being punched away by Cardinale (80’). The Nice keeper would  go on to be the hero of the evening at the Stade Pierre Mauroy, getting down to save the first two Lille penalties during the shootout (since the start of this season, there has been no extra time in the Coupe de la Ligue). It allowed the Gym to qualify and to pass through this test for the first time in five years. Because although Cyprien missed the target, Lees-Melou, Plea and Seri didn’t falter and allowed the Gym to continue on the journey


Lille, Stade Pierre Mauroy,
Lille OSC 1-1 OGC Nice (half-time 1-0). Nice qualify on penalties (3-2)

Last 16 of the Coupe de la Ligue - 13/12/2017

10 000 spectators approx.

Referee: Stéphane Jochem

Goals: Araujo (7’) for Lille; Balotelli (58’) for Nice

Penalties converted: Mendes, El Ghazi for Lille; Lees-Melou, Plea, Seri for Nice
Missed penalties: Araujo, Junior Alonso, Bissouma for Lille; Cyprien for Nice

Yellow cards: Araujo (46’) for Lille; Marlon (27’) for Nice

Lille OSC : Koffi - Ié (Malcuit, 75’), Dabila, Alonso, Mendyl - Soumaré, Tiago Maia (Tiago Mendes, 45’), Bissouma - Araujo, Bahlouli (Ponce, 64’), El Ghazi

OGC Nice : Cardinale - Souquet, Marlon, Dante (cap.), Le Marchand (Burner, 46’) - Seri, Tameze (Lees-Melou, 87’), Makengo (Cyprien, 82’) - Srarfi, Balotelli, Plea