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Nice boost European prospects

Publish on 26/01/2019 at 00h00 - S. WILLIS

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Youcef Atal and Allan Saint-Maximin got the goals as OGC Nice eased to a 2-0 win over Nîmes Olympique at the Allianz Riviera on Saturday.

OGC Nice  2 - 0  Nîmes Olympique

THE MATCH

Nice have lacked consistency for much of this season but they came into this game within touching distance of the European places - if only they could find a way of putting the ball in the net. Patrick Vieira's side had scored just 16 goals in 21 Ligue 1 Conforama outings before this one, and both Saint-Maximin and Wylan Cyprien were denied by Nîmes goalkeeper Paul Bernardoni in the opening half-hour.

However, the breakthrough arrived four minutes before half-time when Adrien Tameze laid the ball out to Atal on the right, the Algerian international taking a touch before burying a shot low into the far corner.

The home side then increased their lead shortly after half-time, with Saint-Maximin pouncing on a loose ball 25 yards out before letting fly from the edge of the box, his powerful shot flying past Bernardoni and into the far corner.

That was Saint-Maximin's sixth Ligue 1 Conforama goal of the campaign, meaning the 21-year-old has now scored exactly a third of Les Aiglons' goals this season. Nice, meanwhile, have lost just once in their last 12 league outings, and this result moves them five points clear of the previously resurgent Crocodiles.

THE PLAYER: Youcef Atal

Saint-Maximin again made a decisive contribution for Vieira's side, but Atal deserves a mention. The young Algerian right-back is a potential future star, and both his league goals this season have come against Nîmes - he also scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win for Nice in the reverse fixture in November.

THE STAT: 100

Veteran Nice skipper Dante made his 100th Ligue 1 Conforama appearance. Of those, 88 have been with Nice and the remaining 12 came with LOSC earlier in his career.