Europa Conference League 8e de finale aller
Sheriff 0-1 Nice
Le Gym take the first leg
One-nil winners in Moldova in the first leg, the Aiglons took a step towards the Conference League quarter-finals. Didier Digard's men won thanks to an Ayoub Amraoui goal in first-half added time, while Tapsoba had an equaliser ruled out late on. The Red-and-Blacks now need to back it up without their suspended captain Dante at the Allianz Riviera next Thursday.
The Gym spirit was there for all to see as they stretched their unbeaten run to 10 competitive games (7 wins) with a valuable one-goal win in Moldova against Sheriff Tiraspol to fuel hopes of grabbing a place in the Conference League quarter-finals.
Le Gym started in a 5-3-2 with just one change from the league game against Auxerre: Youssouf Ndayishimiye coming in for the injured Sofiane Diop.
The visitors immediately took possesion of the ball, but it was the hosts who created the first sense of danger: Atiemwen's volley from a corner flew well over Kasper Schmeichel's crossbar (5’).
AMRAOUI LIGHTS IT UP
As they sought to find Terem Moffi with long balls over the top, Nice controlled the game, and their pressing gave the hosts very little space. Laborde (13') and Boudaoui (30'), who forced a save from Koval with a free-kick, both had opportunities on a difficult pitch.
A heavy challenge from Dante on Tapsoba gave the hosts a promising free-kick just outside the penalty area. Diop, who scored twice in the play-off against Partizan Belgrade, stepped up and hit a firm shot straight into the hands of Schmeichel (45+1').
The breakthrough came from an unexpected source with virtually the last kick of the half. Khephren Thuram played the ball out wide to Ayoub Amraoui. The 18-year-old full-back saw his cross-cum-shot finish in the far top corner for a spectacular maiden first-team goal on his European debut (45+1') fewer than two weeks after making his Ligue 1 debut in the derby with Monaco.
LE GYM HOLDS THEIR OPPONENTS AT BAY
Sheriff emerged after the half-time break in determined mood, and Moffi was back in his own penalty box to clear a corner within 60 seconds of the restart. The ball fell to Kyabou, but his shot was again within Schmeichel's grasp (46'). It was the same for Koval when Laborde fired goalwards from outside the box (47').
The Gym's defence then locked things down. Jordan Lotomba headed clear a dangerous Kyabou cross, Tapsoba headed over the bar (55'), and then found the side-netting with a volley (59'). Zohouri very nearly matched Amraoui, but he saw his effort strike Schmeichel's crossbar (72') as Le Gym rode their luck.
Coach Digard decided to inject some new faces. Thuram, Laborde and Lotomba were replaced by Bouanani, Brahimi et Atal in the final 10 minutes. From a Brahimi corner, Dante headed against a post with Pablo Rosario desperately close to turning the rebound over the line (81'). Tapsoba thought he had equalised in the frenetic closing minutes, but VAR confirmed Radeljic had been offside in the build-up, ensuring Le Gym return to the Côte d'Azur with the advantage.
EVERYONE AT THE ALLIANZ RIVIERA NEXT THURSDAY
Le Gym go to Nantes on Sunday for their Ligue 1 Matchday 27 game (12 March, 3pm CET).
March 9 2023 18:45
Celeadnic Pașcenco Moumouni Gliga Dijinari Ignatov Covali Guedes
Bułka Boulhendi Bard Bryan Viti Belahyane
Kpozo (12') Akanbi (62') Zohouri (87')
Dante (44') Thuram (63') Rosario (73')
Shots on target