Saint-Maximin stars as Nice down Strasbourg
Allan Saint-Maximin laid on what proved to be the winning goal for Youcef Attal (20') as OGC Nice got back to winning ways with a 1-0 victory over RC Strasbourg Alsace.
OGC Nice 1-1 RC Strasbourg Alsace
Nice had the first chance of the game when Saint-Maximin flew past Ibrahima Sissoko on the left before cutting inside and letting fly with his favoured right foot, but his effort sailed over (5'). Les Aiglons welcomed back captain Dante from suspension, and the former Brazil defender was called into action soon after, stretching to deny Lebo Mothiba, who was bearing down on his goal (13'). Attal also returned to the Nice starting line-up after a month out injured, and it was the Algeria right-back who had the more headline-grabbing impact, steering the opening goal past Matz Sels after finding himself unmarked from Saint-Maximin's cross (20'). Nice didn't play like a team that had lost three of their last four games, and they would have carried a 2-0 lead into the interval but for Selz, with the big Belgian stopping Jean-Victor Makengo, who had played a smart one-two with Danilo in the box (28'). Sels then stopped Saint-Maximin from close range before Wylan Cyprian fired the rebound over (43') and the half-time whistle went with Nice leading 1-0.
Saint-Maximin and Attal exchanged roles minutes after the restart, with the full-back racing past two markers and sending the ball into the Strasbourg area, but Saint-Maximin's subsequent header was off-target (49'). Adrien Thomasson found a window of opportunity at the other end just past the hour when he picked up on Nuno da Costa's pass and skipped past Dante, but his shot was too weak to test Selz's opposite number, Walter Benitez (62'). Danilo could have put the game to bed when Saint-Maximin' skill took him beyond Lamine Koné and Sels to leave him with an open goal, but the Brazilian contrived to miss from mere metres out (70'). That profligacy was nearly punished when Stefan Mitrovic rose highest to meet Sanjin Prcic's cross at the other end, but Le Racing's captain's header was cleared of the line by Patrick Burner (81'). Both sides ended the game with ten men after Samuel Grandsir and Danilo were given their marching orders for a scuffle late on (89') and Nice held on to complete the 1-0 win.
THE PLAYER: Allan Saint-Maximin
Saint-Maximin can look unplayable at his best. The France U21 winger's career has already taken in spells at AS Saint-Etienne, AS Monaco, Hannover 96 and SC Bastia, but he finally seems to be blossoming at the Allianz Riviera. Patrick Vieira has used Saint-Maximin at the point of his attack in recent weeks, but the youngster's ability to alternate wide and central positions mid-game makes him difficult to pick up, and he was unlucky to only have one assist to his name today.
THE STAT: 8
Nice have won each of their last four home games, and have not tasted defeat on home turf since Olympique de Marseille edged them 1-0 back in October. Now tenth in the table, Europe would surely be within their reach if they could take that form with them on the road.