UEFA Europa Conference League, 20/04/23
OGC Nice let their lead slip in the final minutes of regulation time on their way to a Europa Conference League elimination at the hands of Swiss side FC Basel (1-2, agg. 3-4). No French sides are left in European competition this season.
Nice were in the ascendancy from the first whistle, and had the ball in the net just six minutes in, but Hicham Boudaoui’s composed finish was rightly ruled out for an offside in the buildup. However, Les Aiglons had the ball in the back of the net again just three minutes later, and this one wasn’t ruled out.
Some good pressing from Terem Moffi and Khéphren Thuram allowed Nice to turnover the ball deep in Basel’s half. The Frenchman laid it off to Aaron Ramsey, who played it into Gaëtan Laborde, who cut inside before cutting back across the goalkeeper with a well-struck finish.
Laborde almost had another midway through the first half, but his curled effort was just wide. There was a dropoff in intensity from Didier Digard’s men with Moffi losing the ball cheaply and Dan Ndoye getting a good sight at goal, but his shot was dragged across the face of the goal.
The second half was a tighter, nervier affair, with both sides struggling to create clear-cut chances. Laborde almost doubled his account on the night with an attempt at replicating Moffi’s first-leg acrobatic finish, but his effort flew the wrong side of the post.
As the game drifted, nerves crept into the Allianz Riviera, even if Basel posed little to no threat in the opening 80 minutes. However, with their first chance of the game, the Swiss side levelled thanks to a well-struck volley from Jean-Kévin Augustin. Nice could then have proceeded to lose the game in regulation time with Zeki Amdouni, a player owned by Nice’s INEOS owners, striking the post.
The game, therefore, went to extra time with substitute Nicolas Pépé having a big chance to allow Nice to retake their lead. However, played through on goal, the Arsenal loanee dithered and was caught. His effort was then blocked. Basel weren’t so wasteful. Just minutes later Kasim Nuhu rose highest in the Niçois box and headed in off Kasper Schmeichel’s post.
Nice were then in search of an equaliser and went close with a Billal Brahimi freekick, which struck the bar. However, Les Aiglons couldn’t level the tie, and from a position of strength, are knocked out of the Europa Conference League, a defeat which could have potentially grave consequences for France’s UEFA coefficient.
Nice player ratings
Kasper Schmeichel – 5
Dante – 5
Jean-Clair Todibo – 4
Youssouf Ndayishimiye – 4
Melvin Bard – 3 – There was plenty of effort applied by the Lyon Academy product, but to little avail. Bard wasn’t often beaten down his side, but nor was he particularly targeted. However, the attacks that came down his wing largely petered out, and he was lacking in the final pass.
Khéphren Thuram – 5
Hicham Boudaoui – 5
Aaron Ramsey – 6 – The tempo-setter. The Welsh international got the assist early in the first half, and dictated the rhythm of the encounter. Ramsey’s post-World Cup form has been a large part of the club’s relative success in the second half of the season, particularly in Europe.
Antoine Mendy – 4
Terem Moffi – 4 – The Nigerian international lived offside, and was flagged on four occasions, including three times in the first half-hour. His poorly timed runs meant that he often wasn’t providing an option for his teammates, and when he did find the ball at his feet, he looked indecisive in his decision-making. Not Moffi’s best day in a Nice shirt. Replaced by Nicolas Pépé (2), who didn’t put a foot right, missing crucial chances and passes. His frustration boiled over, manifesting in a yellow card after an off-the-ball confrontation. The Arsenal loanee’s future at the Allianz Riviera reportedly remains undecided, but he provided Les Aiglons with plenty of reasons not to make his loan move permanent tonight.
Gaëtan Laborde – 6 – That all of Nice’s chances fell to Laborde wasn’t happenstance, His reading of the play meant he was constantly in the right zone at the right time, and on one occasion, he found the right finish. Even when the momentum shifted, the former Rennes forward was a handy outlet, who rarely put a foot wrong all night.