All of Mario Balotelli’s 11 league goals this season have been scored at home. (Source: Reuters) All of Mario Balotelli’s 11 league goals this season have been scored at home. (Source: Reuters)
Striker Mario Balotelli equalized from the penalty spot and then helped to create the winner as Nice rallied to beat Bordeaux 2-1 in the French league on Sunday.
The win moved third-placed Nice one point behind Paris Saint-Germain and four behind leader Monaco, although they both have a game in hand on Nice, which hosts PSG at the end of April.
All of Balotelli’s 11 league goals this season have been scored at home, and the Italian forward confidently struck a 16th-minute penalty after veteran midfielder Jeremy Toulalan was adjudged to have fouled right back Arnaud Soquet as he burst into the area.
Bordeaux had taken the lead in the ninth minute thanks to a fine goal from Gaetan Laborde. The striker took advantage of an error from Nice’s Brazilian center half Dante to break into the penalty area, beat two defenders and score with an angled finish.
After leveling from the penalty spot, Balotelli showed clever anticipation to cushion a pass into the path of midfielder Valentin Eysseric, who turned to hit a brilliant curling strike past goalkeeper Cedric Carrasso in the 27th minute from just outside the penalty area.
There were no goals in the second half but Bordeaux missed four chances, with forward Francois Kamano missing an open goal and missing with another strike.
“In the second half they dictated the game. If you lose the ball against them, they are lethal,” Nice coach Lucien Favre said of Bordeaux. “But you shouldn’t forget that we have several players injured, so hats off to the team.”
Bordeaux is in sixth place, one point behind fifth-placed Marseille.
RENNES 1, LYON 1
Lyon missed an early penalty and conceded a late equalizer in a 1-1 draw at 10-man Rennes.
Lyon failed to take advantage of having an extra man for nearly the whole game after Algerian defender Ramy Bensebaini was sent off in the fifth minute. The resulting spot kick, taken by Lyon top scorer Alexandre Lacazette, was well saved by goalkeeper Benoit Costil.
Midfielder Corentin Tolisso went close three times as Lyon dominated the first half, but the visitors had to wait until the 53rd minute before taking the lead when forward Maxwell Cornet turned in a cross from left back Jeremy Morel.
Congolese forward Firmin Mubele equalized for midtable Rennes in the 82nd with his first goal since joining Rennes from Qatari club Al-Ahli.
“Given the circumstances we should have won the match,” Lyon coach Bruno Genesio said. “So, yes, this draw feels like a defeat. We started losing track of what we were doing 15 minutes from the end, and I don’t know why. Perhaps it was a lack of concentration.”
Lyon has not won away in the league since beating leader Monaco 3-1 in December and dropped more points in its quest to catch third-placed Nice.
Lyon is 16 points behind Nice.
“Given what we showed today, we don’t deserve to be on the podium (in the top three),” Genesio said. “I’m irritated, for want of a better word.”
Burkina Faso striker Prejuce Nakoulma scored both goals as Nantes beat Angers 2-1 to move up to ninth place.
Striker Andy Delort got his fourth goal since joining from Mexican club Tigres in January as Toulouse won 1-0 at Montpellier to go 10th.
Cameroon striker Benjamin Moukandjo’s 10th league goal of the season helped Lorient beat Caen 1-0 as it bids to avoid relegation. Lorient is 19th but only one point behind 17th-placed Dijon.
Paris Saint-Germain beat Monaco 4-1 in the League Cup final on Saturday.
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