PARIS: Mario Balotelli was sent off on his return to the Nice team but Lucien Favre’s side held on for a 1-0 win at Lorient on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) which sees them close the gap on Ligue 1 leaders Monaco.
Wylan Cyprien scored the only goal of the game in Brittany, collecting Arnaud Souquet’s pass and firing home from inside the area in the 15th minute.
The result allowed Nice to go back above Paris Saint-Germain into second place and close to within three points of Monaco, who could only draw 1-1 at Bastia on Friday.
“To win away from home does us good and it is well deserved because we had to hold on at 10 against 11,” Favre said.
“We saw how difficult it is for all teams with the Monaco result, so logically it was going to be difficult for us too.”
Balotelli was sent off after apparently talking out of turn to match referee Tony Chapron midway through the second half.
It was his third red card this season in the French top flight, although his first, also against Lorient back in October, was later overturned.
“I didn’t see what happened. All of a sudden the card came out. Apparently there were words,” said Favre.
The Italian, who has scored nine league goals, has endured a frustrating couple of weeks — he was dropped from the team for a 1-0 win against Saint-Etienne and then missed last week’s draw at Rennes due to illness, but returned in Lorient in place of injured leading scorer Alassane Plea.
It was a first away win since the end of November for Nice, while Lorient remain rooted to the foot of the table.
Defending champions PSG, fresh from their famous win against Barcelona in the Champions League in midweek, can leapfrog Nice again and cut Monaco’s lead to a single point if they beat Toulouse at the Parc des Princes on Sunday night.