Inaugural Match at the New Allianz Riviera Stadium in Nice
Early evening on the Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur and the stage was set for an exciting, first ever match at the brand new Allianz Riviera stadium. The stadium, not far from St Tropez, can hold up to 35,624 people, and is the new home for Nice Football Club after moving from their old stadium in the Northern quarters of Nice - the Stade Municipal du Ray. One of the main reasons for the project was to be part of France's bid to host UEFA Euro 2016 Championships, which was successful.
The first team to visit Nice in their new amphitheatre was Valenciennes FC from Northern France. The starting line-ups, announced shortly before kick off were as follows:
OGC Nice : Ospina - Puel, Bodmer, Pejcinovic, Kolodziejczak - Digard (cap.), Mendy - Abriel, Brüls, Bauthéac - Cvitanich
Subs : Palun, Amavi, Gomis, Genevois, Albert, Bosetti, Hassen
Valenciennes : Penneteau (cap.) – Lala, Rose, Angoua, Mater – Enza Yamissi, Doumbia, Saez – Nguette, Pujol, Melikson
Subs : Ciss, Chitu, Kagelmacher, Ducourtioux, Dossevi, Le Tallec, Novaes
The 22 men were welcomed on to the pitch to loud applause and a great atmosphere, the local crowd were clearly excited with their brand new stadium.
After a slow start and a tentative first 20 minutes, the game started to gather good momentum and flow. The first breakthrough goal came for the home side after 32 minutes when Benjamin Angoua of Valenciennes hand-balled in the box. The referee pointed straight to the penalty spot without doubt. Cvitanich steped up and calmly slotted the ball low and left, beating the goalkeeper to make it 1-0 to Nice. A historical moment for Nice FC and French football - the first ever goal to be scored in the Allianz Riviera Stadium.
Valenciennes had a half chance from a corner immediately after Nice scored the opener, but were unable to capitalise. Nice continued to maintain most of the possesion and had a handful of half chances from corners, free kicks and open play. Eventually Nice broke through the Valencienne defence for a second time after some clever build up and a great through ball which put Bauthéac clean through for an easy finish, sliding in under pressure from 5 yards just before half time (45m). Controversially he looked just offside, but the goal was allowed and the home side had a 2-goal advantage at the break.
The second half started much like the first, slow and timid, with Nice staying well in control despite the odd break through from Valenciennes which never amounted to any serious threat.
Inevitably, Nice extended their lead to 3 at 69 minutes after a counter attack from the home side led to a defelction off the cross bar, which Brüls was able to head home from 3 yards.
The fourth and final goal came only four minutes later, after good build up and continued pressure deep in the visitors half. Perhaps the best goal of the match, due to great passing and a solid finish from Bosetti who struck low and to the right of the goalkeeper to secure the victory (73m).
The local fans celebrated in style after a welcome 4-0 win for their first ever match in the new stadium. Nice FC move up to 5th place in Ligue 1 with 11 points, whilst Valenciennes FC dropped down to 19th on 3 points.