Balotelli winner lifts Nice to sixth
By D. Crossan
Mario Balotelli scored a first-half goal to maintain his magnificent form and secure a 1-0 home win over Bordeaux, Nice's fourth consecutive Ligue 1 Conforama success.
OGC Nice 1-0 Girondins de Bordeaux
Balotelli has scored in all four of those Nice wins, results that have lifted Les Aiglons from 18th after their embarrassing 5-0 home loss to Olympique Lyonnais at the end of November. Bordeaux, meanwhile, have lost six away games in a row and Jocelyn Gourvennec's side are only two points above 18th-placed LOSC.
Gourvennec switched tactics to a 5-3-2 in an attempt to nullify Balotelli and have greater solidity. Bordeaux succeeded in frustrating the hosts and even managed the first serious attempt of the game through wing-back Youssouf Sabaly.
Jérôme Prior was selected in goal ahead of Benoît Costil and the 22-year-old misjudged a cross on the half-hour. Alassane Plea blazed over when well positioned. Six minutes later Nice got their goal when Maxime Le Marchand's volleyed cross came off Pierre Lees-Melou's shoulder to Balotelli, who smashed home from close range.
Approaching the hour Prior failed to deal with a Balotelli shot from range and Lees-Melou blasted the follow-up against the post. Les Girondins brought on Malcom, back from a two-game absence with an ankle injury, but the Brazilian was unable to inspire a turnaround.
In fact Nice it was who came closer to scoring, through an improvised Lees-Melou finish on 68 minutes and then Plea sliding a shot past the post in the last minute. Nice travel to LOSC for their final game of the calendar year, while Bordeaux have a massive match at home to Montpellier.
THE PLAYER: Mario Balotelli
Into double figures for the league season, Balotelli has scored in seven of his last eight games in all competitions. The Italian will be missed at LOSC, a match he's unable to take part in because of suspension. Balotelli is well on course to beat the 15 goals he managed last league season.
THE STAT: 4
Nice's run of four Ligue 1 Conforama victories in a row is the best in the French top division.