Nice

Photo by VALERY HACHE/AFP via Getty Images

Mbappe returns, scores as PSG beats 9-man Nice 4-1

Leave a comment

NICE, France (AP) Angel Di Maria scored twice and Kylian Mbappe marked his return from injury with a goal as Paris Saint-Germain stretched its lead in the French league with a 4-1 win at nine-man Nice on Friday.

Di Maria got the visitors off to a flying start in the first half before Mbappe sealed the win in the 83rd minute after the home side had two players sent off. Mbappe also set up Mauro Icardi for PSG’s fourth goal in injury time.

[ MORE: Interview with Claudio Reyna ]

Mbappe, who recently missed a month with a thigh injury, hadn’t played since suffering a reaction to his original injury in Champions League win over Galatasaray on Oct. 1.

The win lifts PSG five points clear of Nantes ahead of the rest of the 10th round of matches.

Di Maria opened the scoring in the 15th minute after being sent through all alone from the halfway line by Icardi as Nice’s defenders all pushed up. The Argentine stayed cool with only goalkeeper Walter Benitez to beat and picked his spot inside the far corner.

Di Maria’s second goal six minutes later was even better as he lifted the ball over Benitez with his first touch from a difficult angle.

Marquinhos replaced Brazilian compatriot Thiago Silva for the second half and struck the crossbar with a header from a corner.

A Marquinhos mistake – made while attempting a backpass to Presnel Kimpembe – allowed Ignatius Ganago to pull one back for Nice in the 67th.

But the home side’s hope of an equalizer were hit in the 74th when Wylan Cyprien was sent off with a second yellow card after he criticized the referee for not awarding a foul against him.

Christophe Herelle followed Cyprien off minutes later with a straight red after the video referee picked up a slap he gave Leandro Paredes, who fell theatrically to the ground.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Nice fires player for stealing teammate’s watch

VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Leave a comment

NICE, France (AP) French soccer club Nice says it has fired one of its players for stealing the watch of a teammate from the locker room.

Nice says the contract of 18-year-old foward Lamine Diaby Fadiga was canceled on Tuesday with immediate effect “following the theft of Kasper Dolberg’s watch from the professional first team’s changing room.”

The club says “above and beyond all sporting and financial consideration, Nice cannot and will not accept such behavior that betrays the confidence that unites all the club’s employees and all the members of the Rouge et Noir family.”

Diaby Fadiga, who has played for France’s youth teams, was in his third season with Nice’s senior side.

Dolberg, a striker from Denmark, joined Nice from Dutch club Ajax in the offseason.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Referee stops Ligue 1 game for removal of homophobic banners

Photo by Gokhan Balci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
2 Comments

For the third time in two weeks, a high-level league game was temporarily stopped due to homophobic abuse occurring inside the stadium.

[ MORE: Zlatan open to Man United return | USMNT squad for Mexico clash ]

Wednesday’s Ligue 1 game between home side Nice and visitors Marseille was stopped by referee Clement Turpin in the 28th minute for the removal of homophobic banners displayed by Nice’s fans, along with reports of homophobic chanting. The stoppage lasted 10 minutes.

According to writer and broadcaster Tom Williams, the banner and/or chants were aimed at British chemical company INEOS, the club’s new owners led by British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe who completed their purchase of Nice on Monday.

[ MORE: Bolton Wanderers saved as takeover completed ]

It’s the second such (high-level) incident to have occurred in France after French referee Mehdi Mokhtari stopped a Ligue 2 game between Nancy and Le Mans due to homophobic chanting, and the second such instance this week after Brazilian referee Anderson Daronco stopped the first-division game between Vasco da Gama and Sao Paulo for homophobic chanting.

French football officials have presumably made it abundantly clear to the country’s referees that eradicating homophobic abuse — along with racist abuse, perhaps — is a high priority. Mokhtari and Turpin wasted no time in halting their respective fixtures, which could prove the most effective method for putting an end to various types of abuse, at least inside stadiums.

Newcastle adds mercurial Saint-Maximin, Dutch back Willems

Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images
1 Comment

Newcastle has now filled three needs in the transfer market window, taking on combustible wizard Allan Saint-Maximin from Nice and loaning Dutch international leftback Jetro Willems from Eintracht Frankfurt.

[ MORE: Maguire, meet expectations ]

Saint-Maximin, 22, is known for his many tricks and adventurous dribbles, and will be expected to fill the void left by Ayoze Perez. The fee is expected to climb above $22 million, and the player is comparable to former Newcastle fan favorite Hatem Ben Arfa in both skill and attitude, having had some issues with Patrick Vieira at Nice last season.

The young right wing has 11 goals and 14 assists in 74 appearances for the Ligue 1 outfit, and was Nice’s second-best rated player last season according to WhoScored.com. His 4.2 successful dribbles per game ranked second in Ligue 1, behind only… Ben Arfa.

Watch him go:

Newcastle has a loan-to-buy deal when it comes to Willems, who leaves much-changed Eintracht with 22 Netherlands caps, a German Cup, and a decent trophy case from his time with PSV Eindhoven.

At 25, Willems is a candidate for Newcastle to buy after the season and also would give Steve Bruce some flexibility going to a back four, as Paul Dummett has been a decent left center back in a 3-5-2 but not so good at out-and-out LB.

Here’s how the Magpies could line up in both a 3-4-3 and 4-2-3-1 next season if no more players arrive at St. James’ Park.

3-4-3

Dubravka

Lascelles — Schar — Dummett

Ritchie — Shelvey — Longstaff — Willems

Saint-Maximin — Joelinton — Almiron

4-2-3-1

Dubravka

Yedlin — Lascelles — Schar — Willems

Shelvey — Longstaff

Saint-Maximin —  Almiron — Muto

Joelinton

Newcastle reportedly in for $28M mercurial Nice attacker

VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Leave a comment

L’Equipe says that Newcastle United have returned to Nice in the hopes of landing Allan Saint-Maximin.

The Ligue 1 outfit wants $28 million for the playmaker, who could team up with Miguel Almiron and (maybe) Joelinton to give the Magpies a much-improved attack.

[ MORE: Chicago adds USMNT hero ]

Saint-Maximin, 22, has 10 goals and 10 assists across his last two seasons with Nice, and played everywhere in attack for Patrick Vieira: both wings, center forward, second striker, attacking mid… even some left and right midfield.

The player, however, has been a headache for Vieira at times, with the manager saying Saint-Maximin believes that he has enough talent to reach the highest level without the required amount of work.

That said, the youngster’s skill set is electric. He’s a March birth date, too, so a relatively young 22. That $28 million would be another transfer record broken for Newcastle, assuming it happens ahead of the Joelinton move.

Or… as Newcastle fan knows, neither could go through.