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Bridges built between Balotelli and Vieira

Publish on 02/09/2018 at 11h00

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After making a winning return for OGC Nice, Mario Balotelli can expect to be restored to the starting line-up on a permanent basis with coach Patrick Vieira singing the Italy striker's praises.

Nice picked up their first win of the Vieira era with a 1-0 victory at Olympique Lyonnais on Friday, and although Balotelli didn't score - the winner came from Allan Saint-Maximin - he still completed 81 percent of his passes in the final third before making way for Myziane Maolida in the 76th minute.

Balotelli, who missed much of pre-season training whilst pursuing a move away from the club, won three challenges against OL - not normally his forte - and did a fine job of dragging defenders out of position. Vieira was delighted with his contribution.

Watch:  All 18 of Balotelli's Ligue 1 Conforama goals in 2017-18!

"Mario Balotelli did us a lot of good," he said. "He transmitted his desire to win to his teammates. He's an important player for the team. Physically he's in a good condition. He could only play 75 minutes because he's missed the last while but those minutes were good for the group."

"We needed this victory for the points. We're not in euphoria simply because we won. We've regrouped well. We worked hard to get the three points and it's good for morale."

Balotelli made a goalscoring return for Italy against Saudi Arabia in May after a four-year hiatus, and is likely to feature for Roberto Mancini's side in the UEFA Nations League matches against Poland and Portugal next week before returning for Nice's clash with Stade Rennais FC in Week 5.