Eysseric the hero as Nice stun PSG
By A. Scott
Valentin Eysseric struck late on as OGC Nice beat Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 in a remarkable game at the Stade du Ray on Saturday night.
OGC Nice 2-1 Paris Saint-Germain
This game did not really come to life until the final quarter. Then it exploded, with Eric Bauthéac putting Nice in front to spark wild scenes of celebration from the home fans. A quite brilliant free-kick from Zlatan Ibrahimovic appeared to have rescued PSG, but then Eysseric volleyed home at the back post with four minutes left, and this time not even the Swede could find a response.
Another damaging night for Carlo Ancelotti was completed when Blaise Matuidi was sent off for a second booking in stoppage time, as a third defeat in five Ligue 1 games left the overwhelming pre-season title favourites five points adrift of Olympique Lyonnais at the top of the table. In contrast, Nice have now won four and drawn one of their last five Ligue 1 outings, and end the night in eighth place.
Claude Puel’s side had been knocked out of the Coupe de la Ligue by Montpellier in midweek, but he is taking the Côte d’Azur side in the right direction again and the passion and commitment shown by his players was proof of that. There was great passion shown by the Nice fans as well - the Stade du Ray was sold out for the first time in many a year and there was a vibrant atmosphere for the last league meeting of these clubs here before Nice move to their new home next summer.
While Puel made half a dozen changes to his side after resting the likes of David Ospina and Dario Cvitanich in midweek, PSG coach Ancelotti made just one alteration to his team despite their loss at Saint-Etienne on penalties in the Coupe de la Ligue on Tuesday. Alex came in for Mamadou Sakho, but otherwise this was an unchanged XI.
In hindsight, the Italian perhaps made a mistake in not introducing some fresh legs, although he could not call on goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu due to injury, so Nicolas Douchez started a league game for just the second time since signing for the club.
The former Rennes ‘keeper had to save from an early Timothée Kolodziejczak shot as Nice pressed high up the pitch and made life difficult for their illustrious visitors in the first half. PSG did not produce a shot on goal until the 20th minute, when Ibrahimovic fired wide from distance, but they did enjoy the better of the chances after that.
The Swede saw another effort saved by Ospina, before Ezequiel Lavezzi missed the target with the rebound, and then Ibrahimovic volleyed high and wide after brilliantly controlling a corner. The visitors looked to step things up a gear after the restart, too, and again Ibrahimovic was the man to threaten, chesting down a Lavezzi ball before holding off Renato Civelli and firing just wide of the far post.
Jérémy Menez then saw his first-time volley from the edge of the box beaten away by Ospina, before Ancelotti signalled his intent by sending on Javier Pastore in place of Sylvain Armand. But Nice began to look the more likely of the two sides and, after Civelli had seen a header from a corner saved low down by Douchez, the hosts got the breakthrough.
Persistence paid off for Cvitanich, who had lost possession inside the PSG box, but won it back before nutmegging Gregory Van der Wiel and then unselfishly setting up Bauthéac. The latter’s initial attempt was saved by Douchez, but he stabbed in the rebound for his fifth Ligue 1 goal of the campaign.
Brilliant Ibrahimovic free-kick
PSG had won just once in their last eight visits to Nice, but they were dragged out of a sticky situation this time when Ibrahimovic got the goal that his performance deserved with eight minutes remaining, rifling in a free-kick from just outside the box for his 13th goal in 12 Ligue 1 appearances.
The home fans were understandably nervy after that, but Nice hit back brilliantly to win the game in the 86th minute when Eysseric, the on-loan Monaco man, popped up unmarked at the back post to volley in a Kolodziejczak cross from the left.