Nice and Marseille with Europa League wins; Lyon held

UEFA Europa League

OGC Nice and Olympique de Marseille beat Zulte Waregem and Konyaspor respectively in their UEFA Europe League group openers, but Olympique Lyonnais were held by Apollon Limassol.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

UEFA Europa League, Matchday 1 - Group K

Regenboogstadion, Waregem, 21:05 CET

SV Zulte Waregem 1-5 OGC Nice

Nice came out of the blogs flying in Belgium, and took the lead just past the quarter-of-an-hour mark when Pléa thrashed Jean Seri's cutback into the far top corner (16'). The winger doubled his tally four minutes later after good work out wide from Mario Balotelli and Pierre Lees-Melou (20'), and the result was put beyond doubt inside 30 minutes when Dante - back in the team having been suspended for Saturday's 4-0 win over AS Monaco - crashed home from close range (28').


Aaron Leya Iseka reduced the arrears soon after the restart (46') but the game reverted to form as the half wore on, with Allan Saint-Maximin catching Juventus-owned goalkeeper Nicola Leali completely off-guard (69') before Balotelli made it 5-1  with his third goal in his last two games in all competitions (78').

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UEFA Europa League, Matchday 1 - Group I

Stade Vélodrome, Marseille, 21:05 CET

Olympique de Marseille 1-0 Konyaspor

Dimitri Payet led Marseille out at the Stade Vélodrome and immediately set about showing why the club were so keen to bring him back over the summer from West Ham Utd. The attacking midfielder sent a stunning ball in for Margan Sanson that was fired narrowly wide (7') before flashing an effort of his own just over the crossbar (15'). The France international had another chance on the half-hour, but he came off second best to visiting goalkeeper Serkan Kirintili after a ball into the box from Florian Thauvin (30').

Rami heads winner

Marseille finally broke the deadlock three minutes into the second half. Payet swung a corner into the Konyaspor box, and Adil Rami rose highest to head home for 1-0 (48'). Valère Germain - scorer of five goals in the qualification rounds - hit the post soon after (56'), before late substitute Lucas Ocampos missed a ate chance to add gloss to the scoreline (82') and it ended 1-0.

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UEFA Europa League, Matchday 1 - Group E

Neo GSP, Nicosia, 19:00 CET

Apollon Limassol FC 1-1 Olympique Lyonnais

Lyon started brightly at the Neo GSP in Nicosia, with club captain Nabil Fekir drilling an effort into Bruno Vale's outside side-netting (21') before Mariano headed a Rafael cross narrowly wide (25'). The Cypriots settled around the half-hour and could have twice taken the lead, but Anthony Lopes made a pair of smart saves, first from an Alex da silva free-kick (30') and then an Anton Maglica effort at the back post (32'). Mariano had another chance as the first half drew to a close, but Vale pulled of a fine save after the Dominican had latched onto the end of Fekir's delivery (39') and the sides went into the interval at 1-1.

Walking in Memphis

The second half began with the same intensity with which the first had ended, with Maglica forcing a fine save from Lopes with a textbook attacking header (47'). Valentin Roberge - once of Paris Saint-Germain - the sent a looping header towards the back post which Lopes acrobatically sprawled to clear (48'), but it was OL who drew first blood, with Memphis Depay stroking home from the penalty spot after Maxwel Cornet had been felled in the box (53'). Fekir (60') and Mariano (62') both came close to doubling OL's lead past the hour, but their shots went over and were saved respectively. Lyon could have won by more, with Memphis denied late on (83'), and that iss was punished when second-half substitute Sardinero scuffed an effort beyond Lopes for 1-1 (90').

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