With Mario Balotelli rested, Nice wins any­way to stay top

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

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.

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