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Marseille darling Balotelli strikes again against Nice

REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

Mario Balotelli’s love affair with Olympique de Marseille continued on Sunday when the Italian striker gave them a 1-0 home win against his former club Nice in Ligue 1.

Balotelli, who joined Marseille in January after three years on the Cote d’Azur, struck midway through the second half to put fourth-placed OM on 47 points from 28 games, three behind third-placed Olympique Lyonnais.

Balotelli is the first Marseille player since former Yugoslavia international Josip Skoblar in 1969 to score in the top flight in his first four appearances at the Stade Velodrome.

The 28-year-old broke the deadlock in the 62nd minute for a dominant Marseille side by heading home a Lucas Ocampos cross.

A late goal by Nicolas Pepe earned Lille a 1-0 win at St Etienne, enabling them to open a seven-point gap over Lyon in the race for second place.

Pepe struck two minutes from time to put second-placed Lille on 57 points from 28 games.

St Etienne finished with nine men after Mathieu Debuchy and Wahbi Khazri were sent off in stoppage time.

Khazri was shown a straight red card for confronting referee Mikael Lesage.

“I apologised to the referee because I was a bit aggressive although I have not said anything inappropriate or disrespectful,” said Khazri.

Lyon, who drew 2-2 at Racing Strasbourg on Saturday, have 50 points with runaway leaders Paris St Germain on 71 points with two games in hand.

REUTERS/Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ken Ferris and Ian Chadband

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