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Balotelli benched as Nice drop vital points

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Nice’s Italian forward Mario Balotelli. PHOTO: VALERY HACHE / AFP

Mario Balotelli started on the bench as Nice’s faint French Ligue 1 title hopes were all but extinguished in a 1-1 draw at mid-table Toulouse on Sunday.

Fired by the goals of Balotelli, Nice had been the early pacesetters in the French league but they have drawn too many games — the stalemate at Toulouse was their 11th of the season — and Balotelli’s form has dipped.

The wayward Italian striker was back after another suspension but was left on the bench until three minutes from the end as Nice stayed third in the table, with their title hopes in tatters.

A goal apiece from Edinson Cavani and Angel di Maria gave Paris Saint-Germain a 2-0 win over Montpellier to send the champions top of Ligue 1 for the first time this season on Saturday.

PSG have 80 points with four games left while second-placed Monaco, the Champions League semi-finalists, have 77 points and two games in hand ahead of a challenging trip to Lyon later on Sunday.

Nice are three points behind Monaco and six behind PSG.

Valentin Eysseric equalised on 59 minutes to earn Nice a point after Corentin Jean had put the home side in front just three minutes earlier.

There was still time for Balotelli to get a yellow card for diving.


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