Bakar gives Nancy survival boost
By I. Holyman
Djamel Bakar scored the only goal of the game as bottom side AS Nancy-Lorraine beat OGC Nice 1-0 on Sunday to move to within five points of safety.
AS Nancy-Lorraine 1 - 0 OGC Nice
The visitors arrived in Lorraine knowing victory would take them into third place, but Claude Puel's men never looked likely to come back from the blow of Bakar's 23rd-minute opener. Both Thomas Mangani and Benjamin Moukandjo had goals ruled out for offside in a frantic finish which could have seen the hosts give a deservedly heavier look to the scoreline as they picked up a fifth L1 win of the season.
Nice might have known they would endure a testing afternoon when Kévin Gomis hesitated and allowed Florent Zitte to seize possession in the opening minute, and only David Ospina's brave smothering save prevented the young Nancy forward making serious headway towards the visitors' goal. Nancy, however, have generally threatened from set-pieces this season, and nearly added another to their tally when Mangani's curling delivery evaded everyone in the box and flew just wide of the far post to agonised groans from the Stade Marcel Picot crowd.
Though bottom of the table, the hosts were playing the more incisive, confident football, and deservedly went in front after Lossemy Karaboué's low cross was beautifully struck first-time by Bakar. Ospina brilliantly parried the effort, but Bakar proved quickest of thought and foot to drill in the rebound. Had Thomas Ayasse shown equal poise when he was cleverly played in by Karaboué on the edge of the box, Nancy might have had another. Instead, the former AC Arles-Avignon man dragged his effort wide of the target. The hosts did test Ospina once again, however, just before the break when Jordan Loties flicked a corner goalwards only to find the Nice number one's reflexes equal to the task.
Ospina should have been picking the ball out of his net shortly after the re-start but Mangani glanced his header across goal when well-placed before Alexy Bosetti, a half-time substitute for the injured Stéphane Bahoken, drilled wide when Sébastien Puygrenier's poor clearing header dropped to him on the edge of the box.
The young Nice striker was one of the few visiting players to pierce the home back four, and did so menacingly with five minutes left. He would even have scored but for Damien Grégorini, playing against his hometown club, who deflected the ball wide of the far post with a knee.
It was the former Nice goalkeeper's only significant stop as his team dominated, and with Nice wide open as they pressed for an equaliser, Mangani and Moukandjo both thought they had set the seal on a rare triumph. The assistant referee's flag cut short their celebrations, but - just as when the two sides met in the French Cup in January - Nancy would emerge victorious.