Troyes dampen Nice hopes ahead of Napoli trip
PARIS: Last season’s surprise package Nice suffered their second setback of the Ligue 1 campaign Friday falling 2-1 at home to promoted Troyes to dampen confidence ahead of Champions League playoff at Napoli on Wednesday.
The Riviera outfit, third last season but beaten 1-0 at SaintEtienne in their opener, were without their two star players, the injured Mario Balotelli and new Dutch signing Wesley Sneijder, who watched from the stands.
And Nice coach Lucien Favre revealed that neither would be fit for the away trip to Italy.
“They are not ready. Wesley still has a few days or weeks of preparation. Mario is returning form a hamstring injury. At best he should be on the bench,” explained Favre.
The hosts squandered several early chances on front of despairing fans at the Allianz Riviera Stadium.
Troyes’ Adama Niane got the breakthrough after 53 minutes with the Malian winning a duel with Brazilian defender Dante to fire past an advancing Yoan Cardinale in goal.
After being drenched by a sudden thunderstorm, Nice thought they were back on track when Alassane Plea converted a penalty ten minutes later.
But a sublime collective effort involving Stephane Darbion and finished off by Saîf Khaoui gave Troyes their first Ligue 1 win of the season five minutes from time. The promoted side had drawn 1-1 against Rennes in their opener.
Meanwhile, Lyon’s youthful side followed on last weekend’s 4-0 thumping of Strasbourg with a 2-1 win at Rennes to move provisionally top of the table.
All goals came in the second half with Dutch winger Memphis Depay getting off the mark on 57 minutes with a free kick following a mistake by Rennes goalkeeper Abdoulaye Diallo.
Dominican striker Mariano headed in the second off a Nabil Fekir cross with quarter of an hour to go with a Benjamin Bourigeaud free kick five minutes from time getting the hosts on the scoresheet. AFP