Andy Delort, Nice, goal celebration
Match Reports

Nice lay down Delort to Saint-Etienne to go fourth

Publish on 11/05/2022 at 20:56 - I. HOLYMAN

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Andy Delort scored twice in the space of three second-half minutes as Nice found the net four times after the break to come back from two goals to beat struggling Saint-Etienne on Wednesday and move into fourth place in the Ligue 1 Uber Eats table.

THE MATCH

Nice had lost the Coupe de France final on Saturday, missing out not only on a first piece of silverware since 1997, but also failing to already secure a UEFA Europa League place for next season. Christophe Galtier's men knew, however, that a win would put them fourth in the table, and give them every opportunity of playing in that competition in the 2022/23 campaign, ahead of Rennes' game at Nantes later in the day.

 

The Nice boss' former club, whom he managed 287 times in Ligue 1 Uber Eats, also needed the points, however, as they came into the game third-from-bottom, three points from outright safety, and — after a winless three-game stretch — they made the ideal start.

 

VAR was consulted after Bouanga had chested in Yvann Maçon's cross from the right; the video analysis showed the former Nîmes forward was in line with Dante when making his run, and so his ninth goal of the season stood (11'). 

 

Nice had won six of their last eight home games, losing just once, and that form appeared to be creeping back into the hosts when Delort headed home a free-kick five minutes before the break (40'). This time, however, the offside flag was rightly up against the former Montpellier forward, who had netted five of his team's last seven top-flight strikes.

 

 

Salt was rubbed into that wound in added time before the interval. Bouanga was this time involved in the build-up, spinning away from his marker before supplying Ryad Boudebouz on the right. The ex-Montpellier man made headway before delivering a cross to the back post where Zaydou Youssouf sidefooted beyond an unprotected Walter Benitez (45+5').

 

At that stage, Bordeaux — bottom of the table — were relegated, while Nice's hopes of European football were fading fast. But after the half-time break, they were a side almost immediately transformed.

 

Melvin Bard was the unlikely instigator of their Allianz Riviera remontada: the left-back, signed from Lyon last summer, had found the net just once in his Ligue 1 career — in the win over Brest earlier this season — but showed the sang froid of a seasoned goalscorer when he passed two defenders, bursting into the box, before firing high past Paul Bernadoni from a tight angle (53').

 

Delort then took charge. His free-kick fizzed past Bernadoni to level (60'), and he made it 13 goals for the season when he applied the finishing touch to a Justin Kluivert cross to the back post (63') to send the Allianz Riviera delirious.

 

The game was then disrupted by a rash of substitutions as both coaches attempted to affect the outcome of the match: one change did, but Hicham Boudaoui's goal — after the Algeria international had been on the pitch barely sixty seconds — only served to underline that the points were staying on the Côte d'Azur (80') with Nice now just two points behind Mediterranean neighbours Monaco in third.

 

THE PLAYER: Andy Delort

The well-travelled forward's form in recent weeks has carried his side. He has now scored seven of his team's last 11 league goals, and if Nice remain in contention for a European spot, they owe it nearly all to him.

 

THE STAT: 8

Galtier has lost only one of his eight league matches against his former club (W5 D2).

 

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