Toulouse deny Nice with late leveller
OGC Nice saw their hopes of a top-four finish take a significant blow as they were pegged back by a late equaliser from Toulouse FC in a 1-1 draw on Friday.
OGC Nice 1-1 Toulouse FC
Nice knew victory would bring them level with Stade de Reims in fifth and keep alive their ambitions of qualifying for European football next season, and Patrick Vieira's men soon seized the initiative.
Cyprien's ability with a dead ball is well documented, but Toulouse goalkeeper Mauro Goicoechea was still unable to deny the Nice midfielder a fourth league goal of the season with a deceptive long-range free-kick (21').
It was so very nearly deja vu barely two minutes later. Cyprien's effort this time took a deflection off Max-Alain Gradel, and the slight deviation in flight may have been the only reason why the ball found the woodwork and not the net (23').
Toulouse's victory over En Avant Guingamp last time out was a major boost to their hopes of top-flight survival, but the visitors looked every inch a side short of confidence as they struggled to make an impact on the game before the break.
They needed Goicoechea to keep out a Youcef Atal effort (40') to prevent the hosts doubling their lead, though they gave themselves a lift when Ibrahim Sangaré's drive saw Walter Benitez parry the ball to the feet of Gradel, whose goalbound shot was blocked by Dante (45').
Nice should have given themselves breathing space almost immediately after the restart. When Toulouse gave possession away cheaply, Adrien Tameze found Allan Saint-Maximin in space, but after having wrongfooted Gen Shoji, he completely miscued his shot (47').
Gradel was equally guilty of a bad miss when — all alone inside the Nice penalty area — he failed to test Benitez (58') as Toulouse, who had won just three times in 15 trips to Nice, toiled.
Saint-Maximin didn't, at least not until he got within shooting distance, and after again working space for himself smartly, he promptly gave Goicoechea the opportunity to be a hero once again (62').
Atal wasted a good opening by firing wildly (64') and Toulouse needed Kelvin Amian's last-ditch challenge to deny Cyprien (72') before Firmin Mubele — barely two minutes after coming off the bench — seized on the loose ball after Benitez had parried a Yaya Sanogo shot to fire home a deserved equaliser (89').
THE PLAYER: Wylan Cyprien
The qualities of the Nice midfielder are well documented, but his free-kick taking was the difference between these two, and he might have had a second to add to his collection.
THE STAT: 10
Nice are turning the Allianz Arena into a fortress, they are now unbeaten in 10 at home, though they would have hoped to win this one.