Nice reclaims top spot in French league
ABS-CBN Sports on Nov 21, 2016 09:18 AM
Nice's Valentin Eysseric, left, challenges for the ball with Saint-Etienne's Jordan Veretout, during their French League One soccer match in Saint-Etienne, central France, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
SAMUEL PETREQUIN, AP Sports Writer
PARIS (AP) — Valentin Eysseric scored against his former teammates to send Nice three points clear at the top of the French league with a 1-0 win at Saint-Etienne on Sunday.
Even without suspended top scorer Mario Balotelli, Nice was dangerous throughout and displayed its usual brand of attacking football. Having struggled to get past a well-organized defense in the first half, the visitors broke the deadlock after the hour-mark thanks to Eysseric, who played on loan at Saint-Etienne last season.
The midfielder retrieved the ball on the edge of the area, dribbled past Loic Perrin and beat keeper Stephane Ruffier with a brilliant left-foot shot into the top corner.
Though Vincent Koziello had been expected to start at Geoffroy-Guichard stadium, Nice coach Lucien Favre decided to give Eysseric the nod - a move that paid off with the midfielder's his first goal in 11 league games this season.
Having slumped to its first league loss of the season before the international break, Nice bounced back with solid display. It could have added a second goal in the 65th minute when Alassane Plea sent a shot just wide, with Ruffier looking beaten.
Saint-Etienne was the more threatening team in the first half and had several clear chances, with Nice goalkeeper Yoan Cardinale saving a couple of good headers.
Nice reclaimed the lead from Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain, which both won at the weekend.
GUINGAMP 1, BORDEAUX 1
Guingamp striker Jimmy Briand scored a last-minute goal to snatch a 1-1 draw against Bordeaux.
The burly striker equalized with a header deep in added time from Lucas Deaux's cross.
Bordeaux had the match under control after Polish defender Igor Lewczuk bagged his first goal in the French league. Lewczuk headed in the opener after finding space in the box between two defenders and connecting with a free kick from Valentin Vada after 22 minutes.
The visitors wasted a chance to increase their lead in the 77th minute when striker Jeremy Menez saw his penalty kick stopped by keeper Karl Johan Johnsson.
Guingamp came close to an equalizer in the next minute but it was Bordeaux keeper Jerome Prior's turn to shine with a save at his right post to deny a well-taken angled shot from Briand.
"Missing the penalty gave them a boost," Bordeaux coach Jocelyn Gourvennec said. "Then it was a struggle, with long balls into the box, and that's how we conceded in a frustrating end to the match."
Fifth-placed Guingamp remained two points above Bordeaux, and 10 points behind the leaders.
MARSEILLE 1, CAEN 0
Marseille secured its first win under new coach Rudi Garcia, a lackluster 1-0 victory over Caen at the Stade Velodrome. Portuguese defender Rolando scored with a late header, ending a three-game winless run for the nine-time champions.
After being ostracized by former coach Franck Passi, Rolando is enjoying a new lease of life under Garcia, who has made him a key player in his defense.