Ligue 1, Round 13, 26/11/23
OGC Nice remain the only unbeaten team in Europe’s top five leagues thanks to a narrow victory (1-0) over Toulouse FC at the Allianz Riviera on Sunday.
The two sides neutralised each other for the entirety of the first period. Nice had the lion’s share of the possession but struggled to break the first line of Toulouse’s press. Pablo Rosario and Dante therefore saw a lot of the ball, but they failed to do anything with it, oftentimes resorting to speculative long balls.
Vincent Sierro went closest but his well-struck free-kick flew the wrong side of Marcin Bulka’s left-hand post. It took 37 minutes for Le Gym to work their first shot on goal as Gaëtan Laborde shot harmlessly wide. Francesco Farioli seemingly asked for more intensity from his players at half-time and he certainly got that.
Nice, who had played the game at a snail’s pace picked up the tempo and Toulouse struggled to match them in the minutes that succeeded the half-time break. Terem Moffi hardly had a touch in the first half but he made the most of his first chance of the game, slotting in Morgan Sanson’s pass across goal after some good work by Melvin Bard.
That goal brought what had been a lethargic match to life. Laborde had a half chance but blasted high and wide before Jordan Lotomba almost doubled the lead but Guillame Restes’ strong right-hand kept Nice’s lead to just one goal. Toulouse managed to create chances of their own, but they failed to work Marcin Bulka into a save.
Toulouse did have their moment, but they couldn’t take it as Ibrahim Cissoko’s shot was cleared off the line by a retreating Khéphren Thuram. Nice had their own shot cleared off the line in the dying minutes. Evan Guessand’s shot beat Restes, but not Mikkel Desler. It was a nervy end to the match for Nice, but they held on to continue their incredible unbeaten streak, which has now been stretched to 16 games. Farioli’s side have not even conceded since mid-September.
Nice player ratings
Marcin Bulka – 6
Bulka’s shot-stopping was not tested until the dying stages, but he was equal to Gelabert’s curling effort in stoppage time. Despite Toulouse’s intense and high pressing, Bulka remained calm with the ball at his feet once again.
Melvin Bard – 6
Dante – 8
A true captain’s performance. Few teams have pressed Nice as high this season, but despite Toulouse’s intensity, he was flawless in possession. The instigator of many Nice’s attacks, he almost got himself an assist with an incredible driving run forward, but Guessand’s shot was saved on the line. There were worries about Nice’s defence going into this game with the ever-present Jean-Clair Todibo absent through injury, but the 40-year-old Dante was as reassuring as ever.
Pablo Rosario – 6
Jordan Lotomba – 7
Nice’s only bright spark in a tepid and timid first-half display. He was the player who broke the lines and showed intent with dribbles forward. Whilst Les Aiglons struggled to break down Toulouse’s well-structured press, he always made himself available and was an important outlet when Le TéFéCé applied the pressure.
Sofiane Diop – 4
Playing in an unfamiliar midfield role, the Moroccan international showed good work-rate but struggled to influence the game before being replaced by Alexis Claude-Maurice (6) at half-time. The substitute brought a fresh and much-needed energy to Nice’s midfield in the second-half.
Khéphren Thuram – 6
Morgan Sanson – 6
Jérémie Boga – 4
Terem Moffi – 6
Moffi had no service in the first half and grew frustrated, dropping deeper and deeper in an attempt to have an influence on the game. However, this was a game of two halves for the Nigerian international, who got his goal early in the second half. He was in the right place at the right time to finish off Sanson’s pass across goal. That was his first goal since mid-September and his confidence immediately returned. His run and pass set up Lotomba, who almost doubled the lead, and he was dangerous drifting inside from the right.