Nice battle back to beat Rennes
Despite going behind to a deflected Romain Del Castillo shot (58'), OGC Nice fought back to beat Stade Rennais FC 2-1, with Allan Saint-Maximin (77') and Pierre Lees-Melou (89') scoring for Patrick Vieira's side at the Allianz Riviera.
OGC Nice 2-1 Stade Rennais FC
The game began at a breakneck pace and both sides could have taken the lead inside the first 20 minutes. Nice midfielder Lees-Melou has been used in a more attacking role since Vieira replaced Lucien Favre as Nice coach, and the midfielder showed why early on with a shot from outside the box that cannoned back off Tomas Koubek's bar (16'). At the other end, Benjamin Bourigeaud had a chance from the penalty spot after Adrien Tameze felled Jordan Siebatcheu in the home box, but Koubek's opposite number Walter Benitez guessed right to preserve the deadlock (20'). Nice looked comfortable in the 5-3-2 formation they used to defeat Olympique Lyonnais before the recent international break, with Christophe Jallet in particular enjoying the freedom to raid up the right-hand side. The former Paris Saint-Germain and France star whipped a wicked cross into the box for Myziane Maolida on the half-hour, but the teenager failed to connect (30') and the sides went into the break with the scores at 0-0.
Nice began the second half on the front foot with Saint-Maximin in particular proving a handful for the visiting defence with his quick feet and turn of pace. The winger-cum-centre forward twisted and turned to pull past Mehdi Zeffane and Damien Da Silva before crossing for Lees-Moulou, but his teammate headed wide with the Rennes goal at his mercy (55'9. It was rather against the run of play, then, when Rennes opened the scoring. Malang Sarr - an early substitute for the injured Mexer - tried to block Del Castillo's shot, but instead had to watch on as it deflected beyond Benitez to make it 1-0 (58'). Normal service resumed soon after, though, and Maolida was unlucky not to restore parity when his shot was tipped onto the post by Koubek (68'). Youcef Atal - on for an exhausted Jallet just after the hour - then thought he'd earned a penalty, but after reviewing the video assistant referee, Jérôme Miguelgorry waved play on (75'). Nice got their richly deserved leveller minutes later, though, with Saint-Maximin getting the break of the ball in the Rennes box before thrashing home his second goal of the season (77'), and Lees-Melou completed the win in the final minute, curling a fine effort into the roof of Koubek's goal for 2-1 (89')
THE PLAYER: Walter Benitez
A year ago, it was debatable whether Benitez was the best 'keeper at Nice, with Yoan Cardinale only deposed as No.1 at the club last November. The Argentine now looks one of the best shot-stoppers in France. A youth international last capped at U20 level in 2013, new Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni could do worse than looking to bring the 25-year-old into the Albiceleste fold as they look to rebound from their last 16 exit from the World Cup in Russia in the summer.
THE STAT: 8
Nice are now undefeated in their last eight matches against Rennes in all competitions. The last time Les Aiglons lost to the Brittany club was back in April 2015 when Sanjin Prcic and Anders Konradsen scored to cancel out Éric Bauthéac's opener at Rennes' Roazhon Park, when the venue was still known as the Stade de la Route de Lorient.