Simon Moses Wins French Cup With Nantes

Nantes’ players celebrate during the trophy ceremony at the end the French Cup final football match between OGC Nice and FC Nantes at the Stade de France, in Saint-Denis, on the outskirts of Paris, on May 7, 2022. FRANCK FIFE / AFP


Simon Moses’s Nantes won the French Cup for the first time in 22 years on Saturday, beating Nice 1-0 in the final at the Stade de France.

Ludovic Blas drilled home a penalty at the start of the second half to bring Nantes the club’s first major trophy since winning the Ligue 1 title in 2001.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would coach Nantes and win a trophy,” said Antoine Kombouare, an ex-Nantes player who was the first coach sacked by Paris Saint-Germain following the Qatari takeover.

“We came from nowhere. We could have finished in Ligue 2 last year. Now we’re going to play in the Europa League and the Champions Trophy, it’s hard to believe.

“It’s incredible, almost a miracle.”

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Nantes, who only avoided relegation in a play-off last season, lifted the French Cup for the fourth time and qualified for Europe for the first time in two decades.

For much of the season, Nice, owned by Ineos, the group chaired by Monaco-based British petrochemicals billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, looked certain to qualify for the Champions League but after a recent stumble could miss out on Europe altogether.

“It’s disappointing. When you get to the final and have this magnificent trophy, you do everything to try and win it,” said Nice coach Christophe Galtier.

After the two finals played in an almost entirely empty stadium due to the pandemic, a sell-out crowd of around 80,000 packed the Stade de France — roughly two-thirds Nantes supporters.

Nice knocked out PSG and Marseille en route to a first final since 1997, but struggled to create chances with Amine Gouiri and Kasper Dolberg both without a goal in the league since January.

Nice goalkeeper Marcin Bulka, the PSG loanee who helped dump out his parent club on penalties in the last 16, smothered well as Blas darted into the box, with Gouiri then having a shot deflected wide in a gritty first half.

A first final without PSG since 2014 burst into life 15 seconds after half-time when Hicham Boudaoui was harshly penalised for a handball by Stephanie Frappart, the first woman to referee a French Cup final.

Blas hammered the resulting spot-kick straight down the middle past Bulka, sparking euphoric celebrations from the Nantes players and fans.

Pedro Chirivella nearly grabbed a second as he blasted just wide following a corner, with Jordan Lotomba making a crucial block to deny Moses Simon from Randal Kolo Muani’s cutback.

Nice’s best opportunity came with 20 minutes to play as Alban Lafont palmed away from Gouiri before Nantes defender Andrei Girotto produced a superb goal-line clearance to thwart Andy Delort.

Having departed Lille after leading them to the Ligue 1 crown last season, Galtier’s first season in charge of Nice risks ending with a whimper.

“We didn’t play very well in the final but we have the possibility to get a European place in the league. We’re going to do everything for it,” said Galtier.


Frappart Named As First Woman To Referee French Cup Final

French referee Stephanie Frappart (R) shows a yellow card to Monaco’s Brazilian defender Vanderson during the French L1 football match between Stade Rennais and Monaco (ASM) at the Roazhon Park stadium in Rennes, on April 15, 2022. Damien Meyer / AFP


Stephanie Frappart will make history when she becomes the first woman to referee the men’s French Cup final, after being handed the game by the French Football Federation (FFF) on Thursday.

Frappart will take charge of the match between Nice and Nantes at the Stade de France in Paris on May 7.

“Her appointment… is amply deserved,” said Pascal Garibian, technical director of refereeing in a press release from the FFF.

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The 38-year-old Frappart, who said she was “happy and proud” to be appointed, was the first woman to referee a Ligue 1 match in 2019. She also handled the European Super Cup the same year and a men’s Champions League match at the end of 2020.

Frappart has also been selected for the referees’ panel for the women’s Euro, scheduled for July.


Messi Absent As PSG Suffer Worst Defeat Of The Season

Monaco’s French forward Wissam Ben Yedder (unseen) celebrates with teammates after scoring a penalty during the French L1 football match between AS Monaco and Paris Saint Germain (PSG) at the Louis II Stadium (Stade Louis II) in the Principality of Monaco on March 20, 2022. CLEMENT MAHOUDEAU / AFP


Paris Saint-Germain were beaten 3-0 at Monaco on Sunday after a Wissam Ben Yedder double strike, as Neymar and Kylian Mbappe were both booked in a feisty Ligue 1 encounter. It was the club’s worst defeat this season.

PSG remain 15 points clear of second-placed Marseille at the top of Ligue 1 after the fourth league defeat of the season for Mauricio Pochettino’s men, who have been shaken since being dumped out of the Champions League by Real Madrid.

Nice can close the gap to 12 points if they beat Marseille in Sunday’s late Ligue 1 game.

Monaco captain Ben Yedder is now Ligue 1’s top scorer with 18 goals after his 25th-minute tap-in from a rebound, and an 84th-minute penalty.

Ben Yedder also helped in the build-up for German striker Kevin Volland’s goal for Monaco, making it 2-0 on 68 minutes in what was the real turning point of the game as PSG began to chase.

Mbappe and Neymar started for PSG and had a string of opportunities as the visitors enjoyed the lion’s share of possession.

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Monaco’s German forward Kevin Volland (C) celebrates with Monaco’s French midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni (C-R) after scoring the second goal during the French L1 football match between AS Monaco and Paris Saint Germain (PSG) at the Louis II Stadium (Stade Louis II) in the Principality of Monaco on March 20, 2022. Valery HACHE / AFP


Mbappe said the bitterness of the Champions League defeat earlier this month was still felt at the club.

“We could win 8-0 and nobody would care, they’d just be thinking about the Champions League,” he said.

“We need to remain professional, think of our families,” said Mbappe, who was full of praise for his old club.

“They are a great team, playing in European competition,” said the 23-year-old.

PSG captain Marquinhos described the defeat as a wake-up call.

“If we carry on like that the title will be in danger. We have been warned,” he said.

“We came here to win and have fun, but that was a catastrophe.”

PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino said it was time his players picked themselves up.

“On a sporting level, that was shameful. We have to get over the disappointment of being eliminated from the Champions League,” the Argentine said.

Monaco’s Belgian coach Philippe Clement can also thank his goalkeeper Alexander Nuebel, who made important saves from Mbappe, Neymar, and the marauding Moroccan Achraf Hakimi.


French Ligue 1 Match Abandoned Over Violent Clash

Fans invade the pitch during the French L1 football match between OGC Nice and Olympique de Marseille (OM) at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice, southern France on August 22, 2021. 
Valery HACHE / AFP


A Ligue 1 match between Nice and Marseille on Sunday was called off after home supporters threw missiles at players on the pitch, sparking violent brawls between both sets of players, fans, and staff members.

Nice fans invaded the pitch after 75 minutes with their team leading 1-0 and angrily confronted opposing player Dimitri Payet, who had thrown a bottle lobbed at him back into the crowd.

Marseille players stepped in to intervene, confronting the furious Nice supporters, but visiting boss Jorge Sampaoli had to be restrained by his own staff and players as he confronted opposition stars before being led down the tunnel

Authorities in Nice have opened a probe into the incidents which caused the match abandonment, the local prosecutor’s office told AFP on Monday.

“An investigation is underway, but no one has been taken into custody” at this stage, said the prosecutor’s office.


A security cordon of stewards, dressed in yellow vests, tried to stem the pitch invasion before a brawl broke out between players of the two teams, supporters and staff.


Marseille’s French midfielder Dimitri Payet (2nd L) reacts as players from OGC Nice (red and black jersey) and Olympique de Marseille (blue jersey) stop a fan invading the pitch trying to kick Payet during the French L1 football match between OGC Nice and Olympique de Marseille (OM) at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice, southern France on August 22, 2021. 
Valery HACHE / AFP


The referee then led both teams off to the safety of the dressing room.

Eighty minutes after the game was suspended, Nice said they wanted to restart.

“The decision was taken by the authorities to resume the match, but Marseille do not want to,” Nice president Jean-Pierre Rivere told broadcaster Prime Video.

Marseille refused with club officials claiming their players’ safety could not be guaranteed.

“Our players were attacked,” said Marseille president Pablo Longoria.

“The league wanted the match to restart. We decided for the safety of our players, who were attacked during the pitch invasion, not to resume because the safety of our players was not guaranteed.”

“The referee was with us, he confirmed to (Marseille coach) Jorge Sampaoli and me that safety was not guaranteed and decided to stop the game.”


Patrick Vieira Sacked As Nice Coach After Run Of Defeats

Nice’s French coach Patrick Vieira looks on during the French L1 football match between Nice and Dijon at The Allianz Riviera Stadium in Nice, southeastern France, on November 29, 2020.


Patrick Vieira was sacked as coach by French Ligue 1 club Nice on Friday, paying the price for five consecutive defeats, the club said.

The former Arsenal player and France 1998 World Cup winner had his contract terminated the day after his team lost 3-2 at home to Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League.

More to follow . . .

Three Dead In Knife Attack At Church In French City Nice

Police block the access to the Notre-Dame de l’Assomption Basilica in Nice on October 29, 2020 after a knife-wielding man kills three people at the church, slitting the throat of at least one of them, in what officials are treating as the latest jihadist attack to rock the country. Valery HACHE / AFP


A man wielding a knife killed three people at a church in the French city of Nice on Thursday, slitting the throat of at least one, in what President Emmanuel Macron called an “Islamist terrorist attack.”

The assailant, who was shot and wounded by police, was identified as Brahim Aouissaoui, a 21-year-old Tunisian migrant who arrived in Italy in late September and later travelled to France, sources close to the inquiry said.

“He kept repeating ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is Greatest) even while under medication” as he was taken to hospital, Nice’s Mayor Christian Estrosi told journalists at the scene.

The body of a woman whose throat had been cut in an apparent beheading attempt was found inside the Basilica of Notre-Dame, in the heart of the Mediterranean resort city.

The body of a man, a church employee of about 45 years old, was also found inside the church, while another woman succumbed to her injuries after seeking refuge in a nearby bar.

Father Philippe Asso, who serves at the basilica, said that no mass was underway at the time of the attack, but the church opens around 8am (0700 GMT) and “people come in to pray at all hours.”

Churches across France sounded death knells, the traditional bell tolls to mark a death, at 3pm.

The killings, which occurred just ahead of the Catholic holy day of All Saints Day on Sunday, prompted the government to raise the terror alert level to maximum nationwide.

Shortly after the attack, police in the city of Lyon said they had arrested an Afghan who was spotted carrying a 30-centimetre (12-inch) knife while trying to board a tram.

Macron, who quickly travelled to Nice, announced increased surveillance of churches by France’s Sentinelle military patrols, which would be bolstered to 7,000 troops from 3,000.

“Quite clearly, it is France that is being attacked,” he said. “If we are attacked, it is because of our values.”

France’s chief anti-terror prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard is to hold a press conference in Nice at 9pm.

– France on edge –
Daniel Conilh, a 32-year-old waiter at the Grand Cafe de Lyon, a block from the church, said it was shortly before 9am when “shots were fired and everybody took off running.”

“A woman came in straight from the church and said, ‘Run, run, someone has been stabbing people’,” he told AFP.

French anti-terror prosecutors have taken over the inquiry.

France has been on high alert since the January 2015 massacre at the satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo which marked the beginning of a wave of jihadist attacks that have killed more than 250 people.

Tensions have heightened since last month, when the trial opened for 14 suspected accomplices in that attack.

The paper marked the start of the court proceedings by republishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that infuriated millions of Muslims worldwide.

Just days later, an 18-year-old man from Pakistan seriously injured two people with a meat cleaver outside Charlie Hebdo’s former offices in Paris.

And two weeks ago, history teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded outside his school in a Paris suburb after he showed some of the Mohammed cartoons to students as part of a course on free speech.

The assailant, an 18-year-old Chechen named Abdullakh Anzorov, apparently acted after some angry parents denounced the teacher on social media.

– ‘Message of peace’ –
Paty’s murder prompted Macron to promise a crackdown on Islamic extremism, including shutting down mosques and organisations accused of fomenting radicalism and violence.

But the move has inflamed tensions with many Muslims saying Macron is unfairly targeting France’s estimated five to six million Muslims — the largest community in Europe.

Protests against France have erupted in several Muslim countries, including new rallies Thursday in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and the Palestinian territories.

Shortly after the attack in Nice, Malaysia’s former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad sparked outrage by tweeting that “Muslims have a right to be angry and to kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past”. Twitter later deleted his post.

Adding to the nervousness, a Saudi citizen wounded a guard in a knife attack at the French consulate in Jeddah on Thursday.

Police officers stand guard by the Notre-Dame de l’Assomption Basilica in Nice on October 29, 2020 after a knife-wielding man kills three people at the church, slitting the throat of at least one of them, in what officials are treating as the latest jihadist attack to rock the country.


French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Thursday proffered “a message of peace to the Muslim world,” saying France was “the country of tolerance.”

“Do not listen to the voices that want to stoke distrust,” he said in parliament.

In Nice, painful memories remain fresh of a jihadist attack during Bastille Day fireworks on July 14, 2016, when a man rammed his truck into a crowded promenade, killing 86 people.

Abdallah Zekri, director general of the French Council of Muslim Worship (CFCM), said: “I can only denounce as strongly as possible this act of cowardice against the innocent.”

Zekri called on French Muslims to cancel festivities to mark the Mawlid, or the Prophet’s Birthday, which ends Thursday, “in solidarity with the victims and their loved ones.”

Mbappe Inspires PSG To Victory In Nice

French referee Clement Turpin (C) stands by Nice’s Argentine goalkeeper Walter Benitez (L) and Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe (R)during the French L1 football match between OGC Nice and Paris Saint Germain at The Allianz Riviera Stadium in Nice, south-eastern France on September 20, 2020. Valery HACHE / AFP



Kylian Mbappe returned to the starting line-up for Paris Saint-German on Sunday and scored the opener in a 3-0 win at Nice which marks another step on the road to recovery for the French champions.

The 21-year-old, who tested positive for coronavirus on September 7, was on target from the penalty spot in the 38th minute.

Angel di Maria added a second just before half-time and Marquinhos headed the third after 66 minutes. Mbappe thought he had scored a fourth late on but it was ruled out for offside. He was replaced by Pablo Sarabia shortly after.

“I’m impressed by his performance after only one training session with the team,” said coach Thomas Tuchel.

“He always shows that he can do extraordinary things and that he knows how to make a difference. It helps us a lot.”

It was a second successive Ligue 1 win for PSG who began the season still smarting from defeat in the Champions League final. They lost their opening two games and the second ended in a mass brawl against Marseille which led to the suspension of Brazilian forward Neymar.

With Marco Verratti also back, PSG rarely looked troubled in the sunshine of the Mediterranean.

When 19-year-old Khephren Thuram-Ulien clipped Mbappe’s ankle as the striker surged into the box, the France forward picked himself up to blast the ball high into the net.

Four minutes later, Nice almost levelled when PSG goalie Keylor Navas had to get down sharply to his left to beat away a shot from Rony Lopes.

Mbappe was back in the thick of it as the game entered stoppage time at the end of the first half.

Losing two defenders, Mbappe fired in a sharp shot which Nice goalie Walter Benitez did well to parry but only as far as the feet of Di Maria, who tapped in for 2-0.

PSG continued to control the game after the break and were rewarded with a third when Marquinhos got in front of the defence to head home.

Saint-Etienne just about held onto top spot in the table despite throwing away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at Nantes and end their perfect start to the new season.

Claude Puel’s side are level on 10 points with next weekend’s opponents Rennes after goals from Moses Simon in the 71st minute and Renaud five minutes from time cancelled out Adil Aouchiche and Yvann Macon’s strikes for the away side.

Later Marseille look to bounce back from their first home defeat in 41 years to 10-time league champions Saint-Etienne last week when they host Lille at the Stade Velodrome.

Striker Dario Benedetto is available again after a suspension for his role in the stoppage-time brawl in the win at PSG earlier this month.


Vieira Asks Balotelli To Decide On Future At Nice

Vieira Asks Balotelli To Decide On Future At Nice
A file photo of Mario Balotelli


Troublesome Italian striker Mario Balotelli has been given extended leave by French outfit Nice and told to make up his mind about his plans with the club.

Under contract at Nice until the end of the 2018-2019 season, the 28-year-old has scored 33 goals in 51 games since joining the Ligue 1 side in 2016.

Observers, however, feel Patrick Vieira — who took over as coach in June and has overseen just seven wins in 18 league matches — is ready to transfer Balotelli during the winter break with interest reported in England and Turkey.

“I have given Mario a few extra days off to think about his future and what he wants to do,” said Vieira, who played alongside the giant centre-forward at Manchester City and Inter Milan.

“He’s under contract here and everything is possible if we can come to a common agreement who knows,” said Vieira.

Balotelli came close to a move to Marseille over the summer and returned to training late and unfit after the deal fell through.

Nice Suffer Shock Defeat As Lyon Go Second

Lyon Sink Nice To Go Second
Lyon’s players react at the end of the French L1 football match Nice vs Lyon on November 26, 2017 at the “Allianz Riviera” stadium in Nice, southeastern France. VALERY HACHE / AFP


Memphis Depay starred as Lyon thumped Nice 5-0 on Sunday to move into second behind Paris Saint-Germain in the Ligue 1 table.

The Dutch winger scored twice at Nice’s Allianz Riviera home as Lyon brushed off the absence of captain Nabil Fekir through illness to leapfrog Monaco on goals scored, ahead of the clash between the principality club and PSG later on Sunday.

Former Manchester United player Depay steered in the opener on five minutes, before Maxwell Cornet made it two against a Nice side who are now stuck in the relegation playoff place, having finished third last season.

Mariano Diaz, a close-season signing from Real Madrid, added the third goal in only the 27th minute before Depay curled into the corner before half-time to score his 10th goal of the campaign.

Nice centre-back Marlon was sent off with 20 minutes to play, and 18-year-old Myziane Maolida came off the bench to complete the rout, as he did in Lyon’s midweek 4-0 Europa League win over Apollon Limassol.

Unbeaten PSG visit reigning champions Monaco in the late kickoff, knowing that victory would take them nine points clear at the top of the table.


Nice Midfielder Seri Coy Over Barcelona Talk

Nice’s Ivorian midfielder Jean Michael Seri arrives to attend a training session on the eve of the UEFA Champions League football match between Nice and Naples on August 21, 2017 at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice, southeastern France.

Nice midfielder Jean-Michael Seri was staying coy on talk of a big-money move to Barcelona amid reports he has already reached agreement on the terms of a contract with the Spanish giants.

The 26-year-old Ivory Coast international played for Nice in their 2-0 defeat to Napoli on Tuesday that saw them miss out on a place in the Champions League group stage as they lost their play-off tie 4-0 on aggregate.

“No it was not my last match for Nice. I will be at Amiens on Saturday,” said Seri, who sports daily L’Equipe reported had agreed a four-year deal with Barcelona over the weekend.

A transfer for up to 40 million euros ($47 million, £36.7 million) has been mooted as the Catalans desperately look to strengthen their squad with the proceeds of Neymar’s world record 222 million-euro move to Paris Saint-Germain.

But Nice have reportedly been reluctant to negotiate so far and Seri added: “I don’t know much about it. I said to everyone to leave me to concentrate on the Champions League and that after we would see if I stayed or went.”

Seri joined Nice in 2015 from the Portuguese club Pacos de Ferreira and has been outstanding in the last two seasons as the French side have finished fourth and then third in Ligue 1.


Ibrahimovic Wins ‘Ligue One Player Of The Year’ Award

Zlatan Ibrahimovic-Ligue One Player of the YearParis Saint-Germain (PSG) forward, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, has been named the ‘Ligue One Player of the Year’.

The 34-year-old Swedish bagged the award on Sunday, making it the third time in four seasons.

After scoring 35 goals in the French league and a total of 45 in all competitions, Ibrahimovic was handed the trophy by Dutch legend, Edgar Davids, at the UNFP Awards ceremony in Paris.

Also at the ceremony, Ousmane Dembele of Stade Rennais FC clinched the ‘Young Player of the Year’ award, beating Vincent Koziello of Nice, Thomas Lemar of AS Monaco and PSG’s Adrien Rabiot.

The French league champions’ coach, Laurent Blanc, claimed the ‘Ligue One Coach of the Year’ prize for the second successive season.

Utaka back on board with first goal of the season

Nigerian International and Montpellier attacker John Utaka has scored his first goal for the club in the 2012/13 season

Utaka’s strike in the game that played yesterday came in the 64th minute making it Montpellier’s second of the day against OGC Nice and it propelled them to victory with a final score of 3-1.

The attacker who made his Nigeria debut in 2002 and has made 43 appearances for the Super Eagles since then scoring six goals, latched on a sweet defence tearing pass from teammate Rémy Cabella after which he slotted the shot past opposition goal keeper; Joris Delle.

Though,Utaka was on the offside trap when he got the ball as replays showed but   officials failed to spot the action as the attacker showed his happiness.

The 30-year-old was an integral figure for Montpellier as they romped to the 2011/12 Ligue 1 title.

He made 43 appearances for the club in all appearances last season netting 8 times.

The forward has yet to replicate that form as he picked up an injury early this season and missed crucial games.