Arnold Mvuemba’s penalty earned Lorient just a second win in six games as struggling Nice were beaten 1-0 in Ligue 1 on Sunday.
The midfielder slotted home in the second half after Larrys Mabiala fouled Gilles Sunu as the hosts revitalised their push for the European places.
Abraham Guie Gneki missed a great chance to equalise in the last minute and Luciano Monzon was desperately unlucky not to find the net as Nice remained in the bottom three.
They had more than contributed to the game, though, and had the better of the early stages, Kafoumba Coulibaly’s drive flying wide before Franck Dja Djedje’s drive warmed home keeper Fabien Audard’s palms.
Lorient’s first chance came on the half-hour and fell to on-loan Arsenal youngster Joel Campbell, but the Costa Rica striker was unable to convert Kevin Monnet-Pacquet’s low cross when well placed.
Audard made a superb save five minutes before half-time to keep out a fine free-kick from Monzon. The resulting corner appeared to be handled by Alaixys Romao but only a corner was awarded, from which Audard again had to be at his best to keep out Monzon.
Monzon went even closer in the early stages of the second half when Audard palmed away Camel Meriem’s corner, returning fire only to be thwarted by Lucas Mareque’s goal-line clearance.
Lorient had their crucial spell of pressure around the hour mark, though, with Sunu at the heart of it. First his cross was met by a thumping volley from Campbell, which was wonderfully saved by Raul Fernandez, and then a driving run into the area was ended by Mabiala’s foul. Mvuemba sent Fernandez the wrong way and Lorient led 1-0.
The fresh legs of substitute Mathias Autret nearly extended that advantage when he burst clear and shot inches over.
But Nice could have levelled at the last when Anthony Mounier released Guie Gneki, who fired wastefully over when one-on-one with Audard.