Youcef Atal, Nice, Lyon
Match Reports

Atal stars as Nice deny Lyon

Publish on 24/10/2021 at 14:52

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Youcef Atal came off the bench and had a hand in all three goals as OGC Nice battle back from two goals down to beat Olympique Lyonnais 3-2 at the Allianz Riviera.

OGC Nice 3-2 Olympique Lyonnais

 

THE MATCH

 

Karl Toko Ekambi started on the left for Lyon with attacking midfielder Lucas Paqueta leading the line in Moussa Dembélé's injury-enforced absence, and the pair nearly combined for the opener early on. Toko Ekambi crossed for Paqueta but the Brazilian's header was straight at Walter Benitez (7'). Andy Delort kept Lyon honest at the other end, turning sharply to evade his marker and flashing a shot over the crossbar from range (11') before drawing a save from Anthony Lopes at the near post (22'), but it was Lyon who rippled the net first. Jérôme Boateng split the Nice defence with a fine through-ball out from the back, and Toko Ekambi fired his third goal of the campaign beyond Benitez at the second time of asking (35'). Nice nearly responded immediately from kick-off, Delort forcing another save from Lopes from a tight angle (36'). Lopes - back in the OL goal having missed last Saturday's 2-0 win over AS Monaco with suspension - was kept busy until Jérôme Brisard's half-time whistle went, Kasper Dolberg the next to test him (40'), but it was 1-0 at the break.

 

Nice comeback

 

Houssem Aouar fired a shot just past the post soon after the restart (47') but Nice were just as determined to attack and thought they should have had a penalty when Khéphren Thuram collided with Lopes, but Brisard ruled in the goalkeeper's favour (54'). Lyon should nonetheless have pulled further clear on the hour. Toko Ekambi wrought havoc in the Nice box before teeing up Tino Kadewere, but the Zimbabwe striker blazed high and wide with the goal at his mercy (61'). Aouar did find his range soon after, though, thumping an effort low beyond Benitez from the edge of the box (68'). Christophe Galtier had rung the changes moments before, sending on Youcef Atal, Pablo Rosario and Lucas Da Cunha, and the former of those had a huge impact. First he burst into the OL area and sent an unstoppable shot high into the roof of the net for his first goal since January 2021 (81'). After Kadewere had been sent off for a rash challenge (85') he then drew a foul from Emerson Palmieri in the box, Delort converting the subsequent penalty (89'). Atal was then involved in the build-up for the last act of the game: Evann Guessand scoring his first goal for the club to seal a 3-2 win.

 

THE PLAYER: Youcef Atal

 

What an impact Atal had. Groin and thigh injuries have held up his progress over the last year, but when at his best the Algerian is one of the best attacking full-backs in the league.  He has had a hand in nine goals and six assists in all competition since arriving from Paradou in his homeland in 2018, and will surely add to that should match fitness allow.

 

THE STAT: 90%

 

Nice are now undefeated in 10 of their last 11 home games in Ligue 1 Uber Eats, their last defeat at the Allianz Riviera coming in May and the one before that all the way back in February 2021. Now up to second in the table, they could put Paris Saint-Germain under real pressure if they could match that form on the road.