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Nice hold on despite Balotelli's red card

Associated Press logo Associated Press 18/02/2017 Jerome Pugmire

Nice striker Mario Balotelli has more red cards away from home than goals this Ligue 1 season.

The Italian has scored nine goals in the French league this campaign, but all have been at home.

On Saturday (Sunday AEDT), he was sent off for the second time on his travels, and for the third time overall during his first season in France.

However, despite his red card, Nice won at Lorient 1-0 to move up to second place behind Monaco.

Balotelli returned to the side after missing last weekend's action with a fever, but was shown a straight red following an altercation with Lorient defender Zargo Toure in the 68th minute.

From initial video replays, it seemed difficult to ascertain what Balotelli did wrong other than backing into Toure with his arms up as they challenged for a ball.

Nice coach Lucien Favre was no closer to an explanation after the game, although he suggested Balotelli may have spoken out of turn to referee Tony Chapron.

"I didn't see what happened. All of a sudden he was coming off and I said to myself, 'What's happened?"' Favre said.

Favre refuted any notion that Balotelli might be getting singled out unfairly by referees.

"If there is reason to send a player off, then they will," he said.

Midfielder Wylan Cyprien scored his seventh in the league after being set up by right back Arnaud Souquet early on.

Nice sit three points behind Monaco, and one point ahead of defending champion Paris Saint-Germain.

Earlier, Marseille defeated Rennes 2-0, mid-table Angers won 1-0 at home against Nancy, while Lille beat Caen 1-0 and Metz drew with Nantes 1-1.

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