Hexagoal Ligue 1 Trophy

Cyprien strike gives Nice ASSE scalp

Publish on 21/01/2018 at 00h00 - S. WILLIS


Wylan Cyprien's first Ligue 1 Conforama goal in ten months gave OGC Nice a 1-0 win over AS Saint-Etienne on Sunday and lifted the Côte d'Azur side to within touching distance of fifth place.

 OGC Nice 1-0 AS Saint-Etienne  

Saint-Etienne had lost four of their previous five meetings with Nice and won just one of their last 12 Ligue 1 Conforama games. Yet, with new signings Paul-Georges Ntep and Yann M'Vila in the side, and Robert Beric back from a loan spell at Anderlect, Les Verts had - on paper at least - a more solid look.

That appearance translated onto the pitch too early on. Ntep darted forward excitingly just two minutes in before finding Beric - the Slovenian forward's shot was worryingly close to the target for Nice goalkeeper Walter Benitez.

Saint-Etienne also welcomed back number one goalkeeper Stéphane Ruffier after a four-game ban, but not even he was able to prevent Nice going ahead. A major miss following the knee ligament injury he suffered last season, Cyprien showed his value to the side as he sent a majestic free-kick into the net (22').

Srarfi chance

Rémy Cabella might have levelled but for Dante to get enough on his shot to draw the sting of it (35'), but it took a timely Léo Lacroix header to send a Bassem Srarfi effort wide of the target as Nice sought to press home their advantage (55').

The hosts' talented young Tunisian midfielder came close adding a second when he sent a curling shot just wide of the far top corner (76'), but Lucien Favre's men were able to claim all three points with just their single strike.

The win - their sixth in an eight-game unbeaten run - leaves them behind FC Nantes in fifth only on goal difference, while Saint-Etienne, who have now lost five of their last six league games, find themselves just a point above the bottom three.

THE PLAYER: Wylan Cyprien
Next summer's FIFA World Cup will surely come too early for the Nice midfielder, but the 22-year-old is slowly recapturing the form that took him to the bring of France's senior squad last season. This was his first goal since early March last year - there will surely be more to come.

Saint-Etienne have now lost their last six away matches in the top flight.