Saint-Maximin spot on as Nice beat Bordeaux
Allan Saint-Maximin's first-half penalty was the difference between OGC Nice and Girondins de Bordeaux on Saturday as Patrick Vieira's men eased into the top six.
OGC Nice 1-0 Girondins de Bordeaux
Goal: 1-0 Saint-Maximin (16' pen.)
Nice were the last side to have inflicted a Ligue 1 Conforama defeat on Bordeaux before Les Girondins' arrival on the Côte d'Azur, and the visitors looked like a team with a six-game unbeaten run behind them.
A miscued Christophe Hérelle clearance allowed Yann Karamoh an early sight of goal — the talented youngster fired over (1') — and the on-loan Inter Milan forward then pulled a shot across goal (4') as Eric Bedouet's men, who had clinched their place in the Coupe de la Ligue semi-finals in midweek, threatened to race away.
With Mario Balotelli misfiring or absent all together, Nice have struggled for goals this season with Patrick Vieira's men mustering just 13 top-flight strikes before kick-off. Alain Saint-Maximin made that 14, however, when a foul by Vukasin Jovanovic on Ihsan Sacko gifted the hosts a penalty (16').
Otavio tested Walter Benitez (29') and the Brazilian midfielder than flashed an effort over (35') as Bordeaux sought to level, but Hérelle — with a powerful header — was not far away from doubling Nice's lead (40') at the half-time break.
With defences shaky, both sides looked likely to add to the scoreline.
Jimmy Briand glanced a header wide in the dying seconds of the first half (45'), Saint-Maximin bent a shot goalwards but straight at Benoît Costil early in the second before a timely Dante interception ensured an Hérelle slip did not allow Karamoh a free run on goal (53').
Sackho should at least have tested Costil when teed up by Saint-Maximin, who had stretched the visiting defence, but the ex-RC Strasbourg-Alsace man failed to even hit the target (68').
Benitez watched with relief as François Kamano's deflected strike bounced wide (71') before gleefully catching a ball he would have struggled to grab had Jovanovic connected cleanly after making an acrobatic flip at close quarters (72').
Though their midweek matchwinner Samuel Kalu threatened — notably with a first-time shot in added time (90+4') — Bordeaux never significantly troubled Benitez as Nice — without a win in their previous four league outings — picked up three points to move into sixth place, two points clear of Olympique de Marseille, who host AS Monaco on Sunday.
THE PLAYER: Allan Saint-Maximin
With his team struggling for goals and inspiration up front, the youngster had to step up, and did. His pace, directness and ability to beat an opponent one-on-one was often on show, and he took his penalty coolly.
THE STAT: 7
Nice have now conceded just one goal in their last seven league games against Bordeaux, including keeping clean sheets in the last four.