Nice comeback thwarts Lyon
By D. Crossan
Nice scored twice in stoppage time at the end of the game to salvage a 2-2 draw at home to Lyon. OL's title hopes took a battering after they appeared to be coasting following first-half goals from Kim Källström and Lisandro Lopez.
This was a pressure fixture for Claude Puel’s side against their bogey team. Lyon had lost their on their last last two trips to the Stade du Ray, 4-1 in the league last season and 1-0 at the Round of 32 stage of the French Cup this January with ex-Lyon man François Clerc netting an extra-time winner. OL needed to win to keep the gap between themselves and Lille to six points with nine games to play.
Källström on target
Things started well enough for the visitors in what was to turn into a captivating match. After Clerc had fouled Bafetimbi Gomis, a wonderful free-kick from Kim Källström gave Lyon a 22nd minute lead. The Swedish international midfielder got the ball up and over the wall and beyond David Ospina, who moved late and couldn’t get across in time. It was a quality strike.
Anthony Mounier is Nice’s deadball specialist. After a delivery from the ex-Lyon man, defender Nemanja Pejcinovic retrieved and crossed for fellow centre-half Renato Civelli, who headed back across goal. Clerc could not complete the job as he attempted to guide the ball in the corner. That was maybe unsurprising as the French Cup winner was only the French international’s second goal in the professional ranks.
Clerc’s afternoon could have got worse as he took out Jimmy Briand in the box and escaped unpunished. In the final minute of the first half, Eric Mouloungui lost the ball in midfield to Maxime Gonalons. The midfielder fed Lisandro, who had time to pick his spot and curl the ball in beyond Ospina. The Argentinean’s 13th league goal of the season meant Lyon were 2-0 up and seemingly cruising to what would have been their fifth win in their last eight with the other three games drawn.
On the resumption Danijel Ljuboja muscled his way into the area and was brought down by Pape Diakhaté. This time a penalty was awarded for a mistimed challenge on the Serbian. Ljuboja took the spot kick but Hugo Lloris pulled off a fabulous save. Soon after, Lloris was again thrust into the spotlight, called into action to save from Civelli from close range.
Lloris’ Nice counterpart Ospina is said to be a target for several big clubs and the Colombian international showed why as he got down low to save from Briand. By now Ospina knew all about Källström’s ability from free-kicks. He still couldn’t get a hand to the ball, only the post denying the Swede a second of the game.
In the 89th minute, Nice’s Abdou Traoré won the ball in midfield and burst into the area, before being hacked down by Diakhaté, conceding his second penalty of the game. A second yellow card was brandished for Diakhaté, making red.
Nice changed their penalty taker with Mouloungui taking over from Ljuboja and the Gabonese international succeeded. It turned out to be more than a consolation as in the third minute of stoppage time Les Aiglons equalised, Civelli turning in Pejcinovic’s volley with liberal use of the arm.
Lyon slip to eight points behind Lille, while Nice are three points above third-bottom Monaco after extending their unbeaten run to five.