Mario Balotelli scores winner as Nice beats Bordeaux
PARIS (AP) Mario Balotelli scored a first-half winner as resurgent Nice beat Bordeaux 1-0 at home to move up to sixth place in the French league on Sunday.
Nice was in the relegation zone three weeks ago after a 5-0 home loss to Lyon. But four straight wins have lifted coach Lucien Favre’s side away from trouble.
Bordeaux made a bright start to the campaign, climbing up to third in late September. But now Bordeaux is going the opposite way and has dropped to 15th place.
Balotelli has played his part in Nice’s mini-revival.
The Italian striker volleyed Nice ahead from close range in the 36th minute after midfielder Pierre Lees-Melou’s header across goal fell kindly to him.
It was his 10th league goal in only 13 games so far. Last season, Balotelli netted 15 in 23 after joining on a free transfer from Premier League team Liverpool.
Later Sunday, third-place Lyon plays fourth-place Marseille at Stade Velodrome with both sides level on points.
Paris Saint-Germain won 4-1 at Rennes on Saturday and leads second-place Monaco, the defending champion, by nine points. Monaco beat Saint-Etienne 4-0 on Friday.
Italian coach Claudio Ranieri is getting increasingly agitated this season.
A 1-0 home win against Angers kept his Nantes side in fifth place, although that was not enough to keep him calm.
Ranieri, who guided Leicester to the Premier League title against all odds in 2015-16, was frustrated with the refereeing in France once again.
He was sent to the stands during the second half for putting his hands on the fourth official’s head, prompting referee Karim Abed to sprint over and order him away.
Ranieri recently confronted a referee in the tunnel during one game and argued with him at length.
Emiliano Sala’s first-half penalty was the difference between the sides in a gritty contest.
The striker struck the 24th-minute spot-kick powerfully into the left corner for his sixth league goal of the season.
Nantes held on despite having striker Yacine Bammou sent off midway through the second half, with Ranieri looking on from his new seat.