France’s last man standing on the continent travelled to Basel’s St. Jakob Park for their Europa Conference League quarter-finals first leg on Thursday night. In the first half, both teams struggled to up the tempo of the game and displayed lapses of concentration and technical errors. Basel eventually opened the scoring from the spot before the half-hour mark. Basel’s Dan Ndoye got away from the marking of erratic Nice right-back Ayoub Amraoui and fell in the box after contact from Jean-Clair Todibo. Mohamed Amdouni duly converted.
Nice found a way back in the game thanks to Terem Moffi. The Nigerian restored parity with a poacher’s finish at the heart of a box with a first-time powerful low shot. He did even better in the dying minutes of the first half. The €30m man launched his body high into the air to score a ridiculously good overhead kick – a goal of the season contender.
Nice dominated proceedings in the second half, but they failed to make it count, allowing Basel to keep their hopes alive. Les Aiglons were the makers of their own misfortune, as Michael Lang found himself with all the time in the world to curl an inch-perfect cross for the unmarked Amdouni to head home. Nice coach Didier Digard was left seething in his dugout.
The visitors had opportunities to restore their one-goal advantage, but Gaëtan Laborde found Swiss keeper Marwin Hitz on his way. In the end, there’s still all to play for in this tie with Nice hosting Basel next week. However, Les Aiglons may regret their game management in the second half against a frail Swiss side.
Nice players ratings
Kasper Schmeichel, 5 – The Danish goalkeeper had little to do with Basel not really threatening him. He made no mistakes, but he was not decisive.
Ayoub Amraoui, 3 – He struggled to match Ndoye’s speed in his flank. Booked for a tug on the pacy Swiss winger. His erratic positioning was to blame for the sequence leading to Basel’s penalty. It was not surprising to see Melvin Bard replacing him at half-time.
Jean-Clair Todibo, 4
Youssouf Ndayishimiye, 5
Khéphren Thuram, 5 – The in-demand midfielder displayed his ball-carrying ability, but it was all a bit subdued. We could have expected more from the France international on the continental stage.
Aaron Ramsey, 6 – The Welsh international kept moving the ball along nicely. Heavily involved in both Nice goals. The former Arsenal midfielder is slowly finding his groove back.
Hicham Boudaoui, 5
Gaëtan Laborde, 5
Terem Moffi, 7 – He single-handedly gave Nice the lead within seven minutes at the end of the first half. If his first goal is down to his composure, his second was a work of genius with a stunning overhead kick. However, he was a harder man to find in the second half. Still, with 7 goals in 11 games played with Nice, the classy but powerful €30m out-and-out forward looks a bargain now.
GFFN | Bastien Cheval