Magnificent Maja fires Bordeaux third
By S. Willis
Josh Maja signalled his arrival as a goal-scoring force with a superb hat-trick in the 6-0 win over Nîmes that took Bordeaux two points clear in third. A benchmark performance from Paulo Sousa's in-form side.
Although the match was interrupted for 25 minutes early on when a group of disgruntled Bordeaux fans - apparently appeased by a pitch-side conversation with club president Frédéric Longuépée, whose resignation they were calling for - Paulo Sousa's Girondins turned in a superb performance against a competitive Nice side to stretch their unbeaten run to five matches (three wins) with their biggest league win since winning away to Monaco by the same scoreline back in Week 25 of the 2007-08 campaign.
Maja on fire
Maja looked dangerous from the off and got the ball rolling before the half-hour mark, beating Paul Bernardoni one-on-one after a superb pass into space from Youssouf Sabalay (24') and then doubled up a quarter of an hour later, slotting coolly home after some fine work from Yacine Adli (37').
Maja's hat-trick was complete minutes into the second term, the striker's shot on the turn too powerful for Bernardoni (53') - who is on loan at Nîmes from Bordeaux - but Bordeaux weren't done there. This time, Maja turned provider as he played the ball cleverly into space for Nicolas De Préville to round his man - and Bernardoni - before firing into the empty net (58').
Otavio seals record win
Nîmes, 19th heading into the match, have been struggling this season after a superb turn in their promotion year last time around, and at 4-0, Bernard Blaquart's men hardly looked like turning things around. And despite fighting hard until the bitter end, they fell further behind when Brazilian attacking midfielder Otavio bagged a superb brace in the final 15 minutes, the second of which came from a powerful 35-metre drive that beat Bernardoni ndepisthe 'keeper's getting a touch (87').
The superlative performance from Bordeaux takes them second five points shy of Marseille but two points clear of Angers, while Nîmes - winless since Week 6 and with just two wins to their name this season - remain in serious danger of relegation (19th).
THE PLAYER: Josh Maja
The week after scoring a superb goal in the style of his homophone namesake - back-heeling the ball behind his standing leg and into the back of the net à la Morocco legend Rabah Madjer - former Sunderland prospect Josh Maja troubled the scorers no fewer than three times as Les Girondins trampled Nîmes.
One-on-one with the 'keeper, tapping home a cross and firing powerfully on the turn, the 20-year-old Nigeria international showed a full bag of tricks in performance that promises much for his future with Paulo Sousa's constantly improving side.
THE STAT: 3
Yes, it's the number of goals that Maja rattled home in his best performance yet for Bordeaux, but it also stands for third place - the highest Les Girondins have been on the Ligue 1 Conforama standings since Week 7 of the 2017-18 campaign. And, last but not least, it's the number of assists provided in a star turn from 19-year-old French midfield ace Yacine Adli.