With Mario Balotelli rested, Nice wins anyway to stay top
Striker Mario Balotelli was rested to protect a sore hip and his replacement Alassane Plea scored the winner as Nice beat struggling Nancy 1-0 Sunday to stay top of the French league.
Keeping Thursday’s Europa League match at Russian side Krasnodar in mind, Nice coach Lucien Favre thought it best to leave out Balotelli and put other regulars on the bench.
“Mario’s hip was hurting so it was too risky ... We’ll see for Thursday,” Favre said. “We have a long trip to Krasnodar and the Europa League will take its toll for sure.”
Balotelli has made a strong start to his career in France, scoring four goals in two league games two on his debut against Marseille and two well-taken goals in a 4-0 midweek win against Monaco.
Favre has spoken of how the Italian forward, who is reviving his career in France after a failed stint in England with Liverpool and a dismal loan spell at AC Milan, still needs to regain full fitness.
This time, Balotelli was not needed as Plea - who scored when replacing Balotelli against Monaco on Wednesday night poked the ball in after midfielder Valentin Eysseric had clipped a pass over the defence.
Nancy’s fans were again left feeling disappointed after a fourth defeat in seven matches, with the promoted club in 19th place.
Nice is one point clear of French Riviera rival Monaco after seven games, three in front of Toulouse and four ahead of defending champion Paris Saint-Germain.