UEFA Europa Conference League, Round of 16, 09/03/23
A miscued Ayoub Amraoui cross proved the difference as OGC Nice beat Sheriff Tiraspol (1-0) in the first leg of their Europa Conference League tie on a rotten pitch in Moldova.
The game, moved from the Transnistria region to the Moldovan capital Chisinau, was being played on a dry, rough and almost unplayable pitch at the Zimbru Stadium. Both teams, therefore, showed a lack of control and precision for large swathes of the match and often took the direct route, but to no avail.
It wasn’t until the 40th minute that any side created a chance of note. After a mid-air collision, which saw Dante carded, Sheriff went close with the resulting free-kick, but it was ultimately straight at Kasper Schmeichel. Amraoui opened the scoring just before half-time, his attempted cross on the bobbling pitch turned into an unstoppable shot that found the top corner.
Chances remained few and far between in the second half, and it was another miscued cross that went closest to adding to the scoring. Armel Zohouri’s cross caught Schmeichel unawares, luckily for the Danish goalkeeper, his strike hit the crossbar.
The woodwork was struck once more before full-time. Dante rose highest from a Billal Brahimi cross, and beat the goalkeeper, but not the post. The game finished 1-0 to Nice, meaning Les Aiglons take a narrow lead back to the Allianz Riviera next week.
Nice player ratings
Kasper Schmeichel – 5
Dante – 4
Jean-Clair Todibo – 6
Youssouf Ndayishimiye – 5
Ayoub Amroaoui – 7 – He didn’t mean his goal, but it did prove the difference in this tight game. He occupied the Sheriff defence throughout, constantly providing an option in-behind by hanging on the shoulder of the last man.
Khéphren Thuram – 6 – The degraded pitch didn’t allow Thuram to play his usual game. Ball carrying was particularly difficult, as was ground passing. Nonetheless, he showed bright sparks and was the most progressive of Nice’s midfielders. He was also diligent in his defensive work and showed a good reading of the game.
Pablo Rosario – 5
Hicham Boudadoui – 6
Jordan Lotomba -5
Gaëtan Laborde – 4 – This game favoured Laborde more than Moffi, but the former Rennes forward struggled to hold the ball up on this difficult surface, allowing Sheriff to easily regain possession on multiple occasions. The p
Terem Moffi – 4
GFFN | Luke Entwistle