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Stade de Nice enjoys France visit

Published: Monday 2 June 2014, 13.32CET
As one of ten host cities at UEFA EURO 2016, Nice got an early taste of what to expect in two years' time when France came to town on Sunday for the first time since 1970.
by Chris Parrott
from Stade de Nice
Published: Monday 2 June 2014, 13.32CET

Stade de Nice enjoys France visit

As one of ten host cities at UEFA EURO 2016, Nice got an early taste of what to expect in two years' time when France came to town on Sunday for the first time since 1970.

When France played out a 1-1 draw with Paraguay at the weekend in their penultimate 2014 FIFA World Cup warm-up match, a 44-year wait came to an end in Nice.

Not since 1970 had Les Bleus played in the country's fifth biggest city, but that changed in front of a capacity crowd at the newly opened Stade de Nice, which was built for UEFA EURO 2016 and will host four matches in two years' time. The attendance of 35,300 was a record for the arena.

As France's second most popular tourist destination after Paris, the city is well-versed in welcoming visitors. All day its famous landmarks such as the Promenade des Anglais and Place Garibaldi were awash with blue as supporters enjoyed a typically sunny day by the Mediterranean before making their way to the stadium. 

Once there, the fine weather was replaced by a torrential downpour for most of the match. Even that could not dampen the carnival atmosphere that reached a crescendo as the French national anthem was proudly sung by the packed crowd.

The previous record had been set back in September at the venue's official opening when OGC Nice hosted Valenciennes FC, and it was a former Les Aiglons favourite who was the star attraction on his return home. At kick-off, Hugo Lloris's name reverberated around the stadium. Born and raised in Nice, the France captain and Tottenham Hotspur FC goalkeeper was cheered every time he touched the ball.

Behind his goal in each half was a sea of blue, white and red. Having waited patiently for a goal to celebrate, the home supporters were finally rewarded when Antoine Griezmann broke the deadlock with eight minutes to go.

Victor Cacéres soon equalised to spoil the party somewhat, but, despite the final result, it was certainly a night to remember for a city that will not have to wait another four decades to host international football again.

Last updated: 27/11/14 20.09CET

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