Nice and Bordeaux share spoils
By D. Crossan
Jimmy Briand cancelled out Pierre Lees-Melou's opener as Nice and Bordeaux drew 1-1 in the opening Ligue 1 Conforama game of Week 13.
Both sides had regrets from a match which saw five attempts on target from both sides. It was slow to get going, although Nice's fit-again forward Kasper Dolberg managed the first shot on target (7'). The home team made the breakthrough from the first move of genuine quality (27') as Youcef Atal whipped in a cross from the right and Lees-Melou powered home the header for his first goal of the season.
Dolberg (29') was denied by visiting captain Benoît Costil after a gem of a pass by Adam Ounas, taking on the club where he started his career. Bordeaux finished the first half strongly and Walter Benitez had to be at his best to prevent Aurélien Tchouaméni finding the top corner (38') and then the Argentinian goalkeeper put his body on the line (39') to make an instinctive save from Briand. Nicolas De Préville steered a free header wide (42') as Paulo Sousa's side wondered how they weren't back on terms.
At the start of the second half Les Girondins did equalise. Stanley Nsoki, playing for the first time in over five weeks since injuring his abdominals against LOSC, conceded a penalty, bringing down Bordeaux wing-back François Kamano. Briand kept his nerve from the spot (50') with an expertly taken penalty, beating Benitez even though the goalkeeper had gone the right way.
Nice relied on solitary raids from Atal, who played further forward in the second half, and Costil denied the Africa Cup of Nations champion at his near post (69'). Otavio managed an effort on target for the visitors (76') but the closest either side came to a winner was when Atal headed wide with the goal gaping after Costil had saved from home substitute Myziane Maolida.
Bordeaux climbed to provisional third with the point, while Nice moved into the top half, still two points back from their opponents on the night. Both Sousa and Nice boss Patrick Vieira know there's still an awful lot of work to do in order to find consistency and become credible European challengers in what remains a remarkably condensed league.
THE PLAYER: Jimmy Briand
The veteran attacker has now scored eight times against Nice in the top division, making Les Aiglons the 34-year-old's favourite opponents. Briand's first goal since Week 6 was his fourth of the season and lifted the French international onto 96 Ligue 1 Conforama goals in total from 433 appearances as he closes in on his century.
THE STAT: 7
Nice's last seven league goals have been scored by seven different players.