Balotelli brace helps send Nice top

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

CON­TRO­VER­SIAL star Mario Balotelli con­tin­ued his fine start to life on the French Riviera by help­ing fire Nice to the top of Ligue 1 yes­ter­day.

The Italy in­ter­na­tional scored his sec­ond brace in as many league ap­pear­ances for Nice in a 4-0 thump­ing of lo­cal ri­vals Monaco to leap-frog cham­pi­ons Paris Saint-Ger­main at the top of the ta­ble.

The of­ten way­ward 26-year-old now has four goals in three games since he joined the Cote d’Azur out­fit on a free trans­fer from Liver­pool, where his ca­reer had stalled over the last cou­ple of years.

It means in his two league ap­pear­ances this sea­son, Balotelli has al­ready scored twice as many goals as he did in league matches over the pre­vi­ous two sea­sons com­bined – he scored once in 20 Serie A ap­pear­ances on loan at AC Mi­lan last sea­son and one in 16 Premier League matches for Liver­pool the pre­vi­ous cam­paign.

“Long may it con­tinue,” said Nice goalscorer Paul Baysse of Balotelli’s start. “He’s a great player who also works hard for the team. He tries hard and he has the right men­tal­ity.

“Ev­ery­one knows he’s a good player, that he’s man­ag­ing to buy into the team spirit is great for ev­ery­one.”

Balotelli had also scored a brace on his league de­but for Nice in a 3-2 vic­tory over an­other south coast ri­val in fallen giants Mar­seille.

The de­feat dropped Monaco to third, level on points with PSG and a point be­hind Nice.

Bordeaux are fourth af­ter romp­ing to a 3-0 win at Metz with goals from Mal­colm, Gae­tan Laborde and Isaac Kiese The­lin.

Lyon climbed to sev­enth as Na­bil Fekir and Corentin Tolisso scored a brace each in a 5-1 thrash­ing of Mont­pel­lier, who were lead­ing 1-0 through Mor­gan San­son’s fourth minute strike be­fore they had Mor­gan Poaty sent off on eight min­utes. – AFP

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