The Gym lose to Benfica (3-0)
OGC Nice lost 3-0 to a strong Benfica side in the Algarve Trophy on Friday.
OGC Nice played their second match of the 2022 pre-season in Portugal, against a top team on the continent, SL Benfica. The Red and Blacks lost to a very solid, very competitive and well drilled Portuguese team. The Gym had a few chances, especially in the last half-hour, but suffered overall against the pressure and the polished play of their opponent. Youcef Atal made his return from injury in the match, coming on shortly after the hour mark.
Les Aiglons had the first big chance of the game. Andy Delort's long-range shot from 30 metres was deflected onto the post by Helton. But the pressure from the team from Lisbon and the impressive combinations they put together quickly put the Aiglons in a difficult position. Rafa Silva opened the scoring with his right foot inside the box after a pass by Grimaldo (1-0, 7'). 13 minutes later, Benfica doubled their lead. Neres picked out Nicolás Otamendi from a corner, who was alone at the back post, to head home in clinical fashion (2-0, 13').
Lucien Favre's players tried to react but Amine Gouiri's free-kick and Dante's header from a corner did not trouble Benfica. The Azuréen's opponents, who were very effective from set-pieces, scored a third goal through Gilberto, who headed in a corner (3-0, 36').
Andy Delort's scissor-kick attempt from the edge of the box after a good free kick from Gouiri went over and was not enough for Nice to reduce the deficit. The Red and Blacks headed to the changing rooms trailing against a ruthless Benfica team who were on top in the game.
10 CHANGES IN THE LAST HALF HOUR
Just after the restart, Yaremchuk hit the post after Benfica won the ball back high up the pitch, but the ball went wide of Bulka's goal. Minutes later, the Gym keeper saw the ball go inches wide after a long-range effort from Moreira Jr. Shortly after the hour mark, Lucien Favre made 10 changes, including the return of Youcel Atal. Bulka, Atal (c), Nahounou, Daniliuc, Lotomba, Bouanani, Belahyane, Traoré, Claude-Maurice, Trouillet and Brahimi made up the Gym eleven for the final 25 minutes.
The newly arrived Aiglons quickly showed themselves to be dangerous with good attacking intent. A shot from the lively Bouanani was blocked by the Benfica defence and Helton caught Claude-Maurice's deflected shot. The latter saw his right-footed effort turned away by the goalkeeper after a nice one-two with Trouillet. The ball came back to the midfielder who hit it over the bar. Helton pushed Bouanani's shot away with both hands, before Brahimi's shot flew over. In injury time, Atal, back on the pitch for the first time since April, had an effort blocked. The referee then blew his whistle and the match ended in a penalty shoot-out, won by Benfica 5-4. The penalties took place in case of a tie in the final standings (the tournament is played between 3 teams: OGC Nice, Benfica and Fulham).
NEXT MATCH ON SATURDAY AGAINST FULHAM
Lucien Favre's players will play their third pre-season game of the summer against a Premier League side. OGC Nice will face Fulham, last season's Championship winners, in the Algarve Trophy (9.15pm). A week later, the Aiglons will take on AS Roma (23, 8pm) to conclude their training camp in Portugal before returning to the Allianz Riviera for a final test against Torino (30, 5pm).