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Nice thrash Ligue 1 title-holders Monaco on Balotelli’s brace

Nice thrash Ligue 1 title-holders Monaco on Balotelli’s brace
Written by IANS

Italian football team striker Mario Balotelli got Nice back on track with his double goals as his team crushed defending champions Monaco 4-0 at home in Ligue 1.

It was the second straight season for Monaco to concede four goals at Nice’s Allianz Riviera Stadium on Saturday. The French top-flight league champions lost several key players during the off-season after witnessing a successful season, with 18-year-old Kylian Mbappe as the latest joining Paris Saint-Germain on a loan deal before the transfer window closed, reports Xinhua news agency.

Despite four opening victories in a row before the international break, Monaco were frustrated as early as six minutes, when their right back Djibril Sidibe brought down Balotelli in the penalty area, and the Italian forward converted the spot kick in his first start of the campaign.

Nice’s counter attack caused the visitors much trouble in the first half. Alassane Plea latched onto Allan Saint-Maximin’s clinical cross in the 18th minute for his third league goal this season.

Monaco could not hold on to their possession advantage, while Balotelli added another around the hour mark. He was left unmarked to comfortably hit the target on Arnaud Souquet’s right flank cross.

Ignatius Ganago, 18, came off the bench to cap the four-star night with five minutes to go. He coolly rounded past Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic to put the ball into an almost empty net.

Nice, suffering three losses in the opening four rounds, were boosted by the triumph. Monaco had to see their 16-game winning streak, dating back to last season, snapped by last season’s third-positioned side. Paris Saint-Germain remained the only team to keep 100 percent record in five rounds so far.

Caen recorded their third straight victory after overcoming Dijon 2-1 despite ten men on the pitch. Nantes kept clean sheets for three games in a row with a 1-0 win against Montpellier.

Also on Saturday, Strasbourg lost to Amiens 1-0 in a head-to-head matchup between two promoted sides. Troyes tied Toulouse at 0-0.

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