Controversial Italian striker Mario Balotelli continued his impressive run in Ligue 1 as his brace helped Nice rout Monaco 4-0 and move atop the league table on Wednesday.
The former Liverpool player, who joined Nice on a free transfer in the last window, scored twice on his debut against Marseille and repeated the trick in the sixth round derby clash at the Allianz Riviera.
After captain Paul Baysse headed the home side into a 17th-minute lead, Balotelli, who was rested during Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Montpellier, raced into the area and drilled a shot into the far corner on 30 minutes.
The 26-year-old then doubled his tally in the 68th minute when he swept home Younes Belhanda’s through ball inside the penalty area.
Nice were awarded a penalty for Tiemoue Bakayoko’s challenge on Valentin Eysseric at 83, when the shoot-out expert Balotelli had already been replaced.
Alassane Plea saw his penalty saved, but two minutes later headed home a Cyprien cross to complete a dream night for Lucien Favre’s men against 10-man Monaco.
The principality side’s unbeaten league run consequently came to an abrupt halt, while Nice leapfrogged the early front-runners at the top of the Ligue 1 table, with a one-point lead over champions Paris Saint-Germain.
Also on Wednesday, Bordeaux climbed up the table and into fourth place with a 3-0 victory at Metz.
Brazilian forward Malcom gave Les Girondins the lead after 37 minutes. Gaetan Laborde doubled the visitors’ lead in the second half before Kiese Thelin’s penalty five minutes later sealed all three points.
Lyon came from behind to beat 10-man Montpellier 5-1 as Nabil Fekir and captain Corentin Tolisso both scored twice.
In other round six action of the day, ten-man Saint-Etienne secured a point at Nantes in a goalless draw, Angers defeated Caen 2-1 to make it three wins in a row after losing their opening three, Guingamp saw off bottom side Lorient 1-0, Nancy held Bastia to a goalless draw, and Rennes scored twice in the last five minutes to secure a 3-2 win against Marseille.