Nice went four points clear at the top of Ligue 1 after easing past Lyon with a 2-0 victory at the Allianz Riviera. Paul Baysse and Jean Seri scored the goals either side of half-time to condemn Bruno Génésio’s side to their fourth league defeat of the season.
Lyon played the majority of the game with ten men after Nabil Fekir was sent off in the first half, which didn’t help the Lyon cause.
The home side took the lead inside the first five minutes. A free kick was swung in by Jean Seri, Malang Sarr got round to the back post to head back to the Nice skipper Baysse who finished from 12 yards out.
On 28 minutes, Fekir was given his marching orders by referee Ruddy Buquet after he took an unnecessary swipe at Baysse who was running back towards his own goal. It was ridiculous tackle and it left Lyon with a mountain to climb.
Neither said failed to create much up to the half-time whistle but Lyon did well to re-group after the sending off and did well to get into the interval only a goal down.
The second half started like the first ended. Neither side were creating too much apart from a scuffed effort from Lyon’s Gabriel Tolisso but Nice were still firmly in control.
However, Nice were given a warning sign when substitute Rachid Ghezzal did well to wriggle through Baysse and Seri, but the Frenchman’s effort was saved well by Yoann Cardinale at his near post.
The visitors were lacking a natural number nine and Génésio decided to rectify this by bringing on their talisman Alexandre Lacazette on 63 minutes to try and salvage something out of the game.
Anthony Lopes was called into action when Younes Belhanda set up Mario Balotelli who tried to open up his body and bend the ball into the far corner, but it was at a comfortable height for the Lyon keeper who kept
Nice sealed the three points 15 minutes from time when Seri doubled their lead. Belhanda curled his effort onto the post and the ball fell kindly to the Nice midfielder who struck the ball into the ground and past Lopes.
Lyon were a mess and it could have got worse when debutant Jordy Gaspar fouled Balotelli inside the box with Buquet having no option but to give a penalty. The Italian brushed himself off to take the spot-kick but uncharacteristically saw it saved by Lopes.
Nice were never really threatened and fully deserved the three points. With Monaco’s defeat to Toulouse earlier in the day, Nice knew the importance of getting the win and they did exactly that to put them four points clear at the top of Ligue 1.
Playing with ten men for the majority of the game will always reduce your chances of winning and that was the case here when Fekir got sent off. Despite this, even when it was 11 v 11 Nice were very comfortable and were the better team.
Lyon have to re-group and go again on Tuesday when they host Juventus in the Champions League. Nice’s Europa league campaign continues on Thursday when they travel to Austria to take on Salzburg as they look for their first points in the competition.