Match report

Nice secure a European spot! (1-0)

Thanks to a goal from Jérémie Boga, OGC Nice won 1-0 at home against Le Havre on Friday evening in the opening match of Matchday 33 of Ligue 1. This victory guarantees a top 6 finish for Les Aiglons, ensuring European football next season!

Nissa Europa! After an absence, Le Gym will experience the thrill of European football again in 2024/2025. Facing Le Havre this Friday to kick off Matchday 33 of Ligue 1, Francesco Farioli's men had their destiny in their own hands: a win would secure a top 6 finish, the stated objective of the season, while keeping them in contention for the podium. And they did just that, as Les Rouge et Noir did not falter, securing the victory by the narrowest of margins thanks to Jérémie Boga's sixth goal in all competitions.


Set-up in their traditional 4-3-3 formation, Les Aiglons returned to the pitch two weeks after their impressive 3-1 victory at Strasbourg, with three changes to the starting line-up: Antoine Mendy, Morgan Sanson and Terem Moffi, who were substitutes at the Meinau, regained their starting spots this Friday. Driven on by a passionate Allianz Riviera crowd, the Niçois started strongly.

Pressing, intensity, playing on the front foot... the tone was set, Le Gym wouldn't let this opportunity slip away. Benefiting from Mohamed-Ali Cho's pressing work, Morgan Sanson fired the first shot of the encounter, unleashing a powerful strike from 30 meters out that was turned away by Arthur Desmas (4'). However, Le Havre's goalkeeper was unable to stop Jérémie Boga eight minutes later. Alerted by a long throw from Antoine Mendy, Le Gym's winger took advantage of a moment of hesitation in the defence to win the ball back and beat the Normandy goalkeeper from close range (1-0, 12').

Solid in defence and efficient with the counter-press to prevent Le Havre from counter-attacking, Dante and his teammates continued to push forward, lacking a bit of precision in the opponent's box, like Cho's run that stumbled while trying to set up Moffi in the box (22'). They could have even doubled their lead if their second goal hadn't been rightfully disallowed. Taking advantage of a good cross from Sanson, Boga combined with Cho and Thuram, allowing the latter to beat Desmas with a beautiful curling shot, unfortunately from an offside position (37'). Arouna Sangante, who made a decisive intervention to deny Moffi from close range (42') and Desmas, who was quick to get down and deflect Bard's cross-shot (45+2'), then prevented Les Azuréens from extending their lead.


More in control in the second half, the home side continued to create chances. On the receiving end of a Sanson corner, Dante successfully headed towards Moffi but the striker was thwarted by Desmas, who was alert to close down his angle at the far post (52'). Le Gym created two more major chances shortly after the hour mark. Impressive with his desire and work rate this Friday, Sanson carried the ball up the field before crossing back to Boga, whose one-touch shot was met by a smart save from Desmas (65'). It was then Thuram, benefiting from a superb through ball from Rosario, who lacked accuracy with his chip shot when through one-on-one with goalkeeper (67').

Not troubled defensively (only 3 shots on target conceded), Francesco Farioli's troops ended the match doing what they do best: defending as a unit, spurred on by a stadium ignited by the solidarity and spirit of its players, not without avoiding a final scare. Launched into the box, Steve Ngoura shifted to the left before unleashing a powerful shot. The Allianz erupted, as the young Le Havre player's attempt sailed over Marcin Bulka's goal (90+4').


Deservedly, this victory extends Le Gym's unbeaten run to five matches and keeps Lyon, Rennes, and Marseille at bay, who can no longer catch them in the standings. In fifth place, Les Rouge et Noir hold a five-point lead over Lens, their closest pursuers with two rounds to go. But while European qualification is secured and the top 6 objective achieved, the season is surely not over. Temporarily back to one point behind Lille in fourth, Les Aiglons can dream of an even more exciting end to the season. Starting with the reception of the French Champions, PSG, on Wednesday 15 May, to bring the year to a close in style at the Allianz Riviera.

Hugo Rondet