Nice missed its entry into the Europa League. A disastrous first half hour, a gross defensive error when they had returned to the match: the Aiglons, beaten 6 goals to 2, paid dearly for their European inexperience, Thursday, October 22, against Bayer Leverkusen.
This defeat leaves OGC Nice at zero points in a group that is however affordable, with the winner of the Israel Cup, Hapoël Beer-Sheva, with modest ambitions, and Slavia Prague, Czech Republic champions.
Archidominator at the start, Bayer, quarter-finalist of the last edition of the event, quickly scored two goals, by Nadiem Amiri (11e) and Lucas Alario (16e). But Amine Gouiri, Nice’s top scorer in Ligue 1 with three goals, scored the goal of hope, at the 31e minute (2-1). Well back in the match, Nice cracked after the break on a huge defensive error, before exploding at the end of the match by conceding three goals in the last eleven minutes.
In the total closed door of the BayArena, the Aiglons entered the game very badly: the fifth in Ligue 1 seemed to have completely forgotten the instructions of their coach, Patrick Vieira: “We have to try to impose our game, have possession of the ball, go and get them to cause them problems and recover the ball as high as possible”, asked the 1998 world champion to his players.
Nice let go on a big mistake
From the 11e minute, the young Jamaican talent Leon Bailey opened superbly in the back of the defense for Nadiem Amiri, who mystified Dante and opened the scoring with an unstoppable cross shot (1-0). Five minutes later, Lucas Alario placed a strike from a very tight angle, and the hapless Walter Benitez saw the ball pass over his arms (2-0, 16e).
Leverkusen had the opportunity to kill the match, again by Bailey on a long shot, but Benitez made the decisive save this time to keep his team in the match (17e).
Nice suffered again, until the goal. Stanley Nsoki won a duel at the center line, overwhelmed on the left wing and perfectly served Gouiri, at the edge of the surface. The young striker cleared his defender to open the angle and place a superb shot (2-1, 31e).
This goal momentarily changed the face of the game. Nice was suddenly more aggressive, more precise in his passes and thought, no doubt, that there was a blow to play against the Germans, currently 9es of the Bundesliga, admittedly rough but not impregnable.
Just before the break, Hassane Kamara even offered an opportunity to equalize, after a one-two with Dante in the box, but his ball crashed into the side net.
Nice let go on a big mistake. On an innocuous raise, Morgan Schneiderlin did not see Alario arrive behind his back, who stole the ball from him to serve Moussa Diaby, completely alone at the penalty spot. The international French hope took all his time to adjust Benitez (3-1, 61e). Leverkusen then went on, by three goals in less than ten minutes, by Karim Bellarabi (4-1, 79e, and 5-1, 83e) and Florian Wirtz (87e). Alexis Claude-Maurice’s second goal (90e) is anecdotal.
Nice, with its ambitions sharpened by the arrival of Ineos, will still have to make its classes in Europe before it can dream big.