Nice retain top spot in France with 1-0 win at St Etienne

Reuters: Nice stayed three points clear at the top of Ligue 1 after Valentin Eysseric’s fine second-half goal gave them a 1-0 win away to St Etienne in an entertaining match on Sunday.

The result put Nice on 32 points from 13 games, three ahead of second-placed Monaco, who won 3-0 at Lorient on Friday, and champions Paris Saint Germain in third after they beat Nantes 2-0 at home on Saturday.

Nice were missing suspended striker Mario Balotelli but still created plenty of chances either side of Eysserick’s clinical 63rd-minute strike into the top corner from 15 metres.

There were muted celebrations by the 24-year old midfielder, who spent last season on loan at St Etienne, scoring six league goals in 29 games before returning to Nice in the close season.

Nice striker Alassane Plea missed two easy chances within minutes shortly after Eysseric scored and Jean Michel Seri also twice came close in the first half, with St Etienne’s Stephane Ruffier making several fine saves.

The keeper pushed over a spectacular Younes Belhanda lob from the halfway line deep into stoppage time moments after the hosts had missed a great chance to equalise when Loic Perrin blasted the ball over the bar from five metres.

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