Auxerre tops fellow league minnow Nice

Auxerre lifted themselves away from the Ligue 1 relegation zone on Sunday afternoon with a narrow 2-1 home victory over second-bottom Nice.

Dennis Oliech’s header put the hosts ahead in the 13th minute, but Eric Mouloungui got Nice back on level terms with a superb equaliser eight minutes later.

The visitors would have been ahead at half-time had Fabian Monzon converted from the penalty spot, but he blazed over and Ben Sahar grabbed a second-half winner to clinch all three points for AJA.

The result lifted Laurent Fournier’s side up four places to 13th in the standings, while Nice slipped three points adrift of safety.

Both teams headed into the game with something to prove, Auxerre having been beaten five times in their last six league matches and Nice having won just one of their last five.

And it was the home team whose quest started in more promising fashion, Sahar beating Francois Clerc down the left and crossing for Oliech to head into the top-right corner from the first real chance of the game.

The lead did not last long, though, as the visitors mustered a fine leveller in the 21st minute. With his back to goal Mouloungui collected Renato Civelli’s knock-down and turned Willy Boly before smashing a left-footed shot into the top-right corner of Olivier Sorin’s net.

Auxerre almost re-established their advantage 10 minutes later when Issam Jemaa unleashed a fierce attempt which, with the goalkeeper beaten, flew centimetres over the bar.

It was the visitors who should have been ahead at the interval, however, after Delvin Ndinga’s silly challenge on Nemanja Pejcinovic in the area prompted the referee to point to the spot. But Monzon sent his left-footed penalty over the bar.

Nice goalkeeper David Ospina kept his side on level terms with a decent save in the 63rd minute, keeping out Sahar’s shot from Civelli’s cut-back with his feet.

He was powerless to prevent Auxerre re-taking the lead two minutes later, though. Substitute Kamel Chafni found Oliech, whose cross from the right was perfect for Sahar to head home.

Ospina had to be alert to stop the hosts extending their lead in the 79th minute, pushing a Dariusz Dudka free-kick away for a corner.

Nice searched for an equaliser in the closing stages and will count themselves unfortunate to have gone away empty-handed after going close seven minutes from time, Sorin pulling off a brilliant reaction save to turn Mouloungui’s header onto the post.