Nice’s Italian forward Mario Balotelli kicks to score during the French L1 football match between Rennes and Nice on September 17, 2017 at Roazhon Park in Rennes, western France.JEAN-SEBASTIEN EVRARD / AFP
A sizzling Mario Balotelli strike ten minutes from time gave Nice a 1-0 win at Rennes on Sunday as last season’s Ligue 1 pace-setters appear to be overcoming a poor start this term.
Balotelli hammered a supreme shot into the top corner for his fourth goal in three games since missing the start of the season as Lucien Favre’s side continue their climb up the table into eighth place.
“It could easily have been a draw,” said Favre, whose side beat Monaco 4-0 last week and who led Nice to third in Ligue 1 last season.
“Considering it’s been three games in a week, this is more than satisfying,” he said.
For the Italian international it was an 18th league goal in 26 matches for Nice, who beat Zulte Waregem 5-1 away in the Europa League on Thursday where the giant former AC Milan and Manchester City striker with his mohican haircut scored twice.
Earlier Sunday Marseille also pulled out of an early season slump when a Clinton Njie brace gave the ambitious southerners a 2-0 win at Amiens.
Under new ownership with a bevvy of new signings Rudi Garcia’s side were thrashed 6-1 at Monaco two weeks ago followed by an embarrassing 3-1 home defeat to Rennes.
But a lucky break up at northern outfit Amiens helped get Marseille back on track for their dream of Champions League football when a deflected cross hit Njie in the midriff and bounced into the goal with the ‘keeper wrong-footed.
The 24-year-old former Spurs man then doubled the tally two minutes later after rounding ‘keeper Regis Gurtner on 55 minutes.
In a good sign of things to come Cameroon international Njie, winner of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, took his Ligue 1 tally to five.
American businessman Frank McCourt, former owner of the LA Dodgers and Marseille’s new owner, has promised he’ll get them back into the Champions League for the first time sine 2013.
The win lifted Marseille to fifth on 10 points from six games while table toppers Paris Saint-Germain have 15 points ahead of their late game with Lyon.
On Saturday a revitalised Radamel Falcao grabbed a brace as second-placed champions Monaco beat Strasbourg 3-0.
Saint-Etienne moved up to third as Jonathan Bamba’s third goal of the season from the penalty spot saw them edge out lowly Dijon 1-0.
Nantes continued their good form under Claudio Ranieri, as they beat Caen 1-0 to make it four games unbeaten without conceding a goal while Bordeaux stayed unbeaten with a 1-0 victory at Toulouse.