Ligue 1 Uber Eats Matchday 18
On-fire Le Gym move forward again with 6-1 win
It was some show at the Allianz Riviera tonight, where OGC Nice utterly dominated Montpellier, running out 6-1 winners! In what was Didier Digard’s first game in the dugout for Le Gym, his side showed bravery, desire and efficiency.
Ghosts to lay to rest. A bitter pill to swallow. Hearts to win over once more. Four days after their dismal evening in Le Puy, Les Aiglons had some apologising to do, and they certainly took their opportunity, offering up some delightful attacking football and a feast of goals. It was the second time that the Allianz Riviera had witnessed seven goals in a single Rouge et Noir game, after the 6-1 hammering that was inflicted on Bordeaux in September 2015, at the dawn of what was to be a stunning season.
It was a second time that felt like a first. Two days after being named as Les Aiglons’ new head coach, Didier Digard was under scrutiny, his choices highly anticipated. The coach got it spot on, however, from start to finish. His first big call was to start with a 4-3-3, with Hicham Boudaoui sitting in front of the defence as a no. 6 – a position that he excelled in during the Adrian Ursea era, when ‘DD’ himself was the assistant. Before his premature exit due to injury in the 42nd minute, the ‘Prince of Béchar’ dazzled, retrieved, guided and distributed without ever putting a foot wrong. It was he who took the ball from the feet of Téji Savanier in order to play it to Khephren Thuram just after the quarter-of-an-hour mark, with the France U21 international then sending Nicolas Pepe on his way. After losing his first one-v.-one with Jonas Omlin early in the game, the Ivorian kept his foot firm to open the scoring (1-0, 16’). From then onwards, Les Rouge et Noir didn’t let up and kept going forward, as demonstrated by Thuram, who often played as a second striker. Just after an attempt from Gaëtan Laborde was turned onto the post by the Montpellier ‘keeper, the Nice no. 19 opened his account for the season, pouncing on a loose ball at the far post. Thanks to some crafty positioning, he pulled off a sumptuous one-two with Dante before calmly finding the net from inside the box (2-0, 35’).
UNbridled UNTIL THE END
The third goal in a game is often the decider, and Le Gym certainly didn’t let any doubt creep in. In fact, they continued to attack like mad, making forward run after forward run. Thuram and Sofiane Diop almost hit the target in the 47th minute, but in the end, it was Pepe who put the game beyond all doubt before the hour mark. Thanks to Melvin Bard winning the ball halfway up the pitch, Diop passing it on and Aaron Ramsey providing an assist on his return to the starting 11, the Ivorian cut in from the right to drive straight through the middle of the penalty area and finish with his left foot at the near post (3-0, 56’). Schmeichel made the save that was required to stop a 65th-minute free kick from Savanier, but the hosts continued to attack with tremendous inventiveness and variety. Ramsey narrowly missed the target before making way for Ross Barkley, with the Englishman taking over from the Welshman and, as was the case with all of Le Gym’s substitutes, stepping onto the pitch with the bit between his teeth.
Having been played in by Laborde, Andy Delort, who also came on midway through the game, hit a left-footed half-volley that made it 4-0 in the 75th minute before offering the ball on a platter to Barkley with a header, which was converted by the Everton academy graduate with a precise, left-footed finish (5-1, 82’). In what were his first 30 minutes of Ligue 1 football, it was Badredine Bouanani’s turn to provide an assist for Barkley, who turned on himself, left Christopher Jullien for dead with his right foot and beat Omlin with his left (85’, 6-1). These were Barkley’s second and third goals for what is, as the English chant goes, “by far the greatest team the world has ever seen”, with all of them having been scored in 2023.
On such a wonderful night, even Savanier’s consolation goal from an 80th-minute free kick situated 20 yards out was magnificent.
In front of their own fans, Les Aiglons got back on the front foot in style. Now in 10th place, they will officially reach the halfway point of the season on Sunday, when they face Reims at the Stade Auguste Delaune on Matchday 19, with kick-off set for 15:00 CET.
OGC Nice TV
Highlights : Nice 6-1 Montpellier
January 11 2023 21:00
Boulhendi Mendy Beka Beka Brahimi
Chotard Cozza Fayad Kamara Tchato
Shots on target