by SCOTT TAYLOR
Mario Balotelli scored his sixth goal in five games as Nice moved six points clear at the top of Ligue 1 with a 4-1 thrashing at home to Nantes on Sunday evening.
Balotelli put his body on the line to set up Wylan Cyprien to score the opener before the Italian picked himself up to stroke home Nice’s second before bowing to the crowd at the Allianz Riviera.
A defensive mistake allowed Sala to pull a goal back for Nantes before Alassane Plea scored his fourth goal in two games to restore his sides two goal cushion with a header.
Cyprien then scored his third goal in two games as Nice made it 11 games unbeaten and extend their lead at the top of the Ligue 1 standings.
That was because Monaco were held to a 1-1 draw at Saint-Etienne. Kamil Glik poked home a free-kick to put the visitors ahead in the early stages with his third goal of the season.
Loic Perrin headed the leveller with the hosts’ only notable chance of the game, again from a set-piece, but Saint-Etienne’s Stephane Ruffier denied the league’s highest scorers countless times.
Another goalkeeper to put in an inspired performance to hold the visitors to a draw was Dijon goalkeeper Baptiste Reynet, who was the standout players in his side’s 0-0 draw at Bastia.
Reynet made a string of strong saves to deny Bastia, who also hit the woodwork three times in a thrilling stalemate in Corsica.
The second goalless draw came at the Stade Velodrome as Marseille manager Rudi Garcia is still searching for his first win and his first goal as after his first home game ended 0-0 with Bordeaux.
Elsewhere, Alexandre Lacazette scored twice as ten-man Lyon beat high flying Toulouse 2-1 at the Stadium Municipal, despite having Rafael sent-off in the second half.
After missing a penalty in the loss to Juventus, Lacazette scored a less than convincing spot-kick to put the visitors ahead before Jullien equalised with a header.
Corentin Tolisso played in Lacazette, who rounded Albin Lafont and stroked home the winner to send Lyon up to eighth in the table.
Edinson Cavani is another striker in fine form, and the Uruguayan scored his 14th goal of the season as Paris Saint-Germain moved up to third in Ligue 1 with a 1-0 win at struggling Lille.
The visitors did have Angel Di Maria’s goal ruled out for handball, before Di Maria turned provider for Cavani to give PSG all three points.
Wesley Said scored the only goal of the game as Rennes also secured a 1-0 win this week, beating free-faling Metz 1-0 to move Rennes, who are unbeaten at home this season, up to fifth.
Guingamp have also made a phenomenal start to the season, and Nill De Pauw scored the winner moments after coming as a substitute to move them to within three points of second place.
The weekend’s most entertaining game was at bottom side Lorient, who let a 2-0 lead slip to drew 2-2 with fellow strugglers Montpellier in their first game without manager Sylvain Rippol.
Zargo Toure headed the hosts in front before Sylvain Marveaux doubled their lead shortly after.
Souleymane Camara got Montpellier back into the game after a defensive error in the Lorient penalty area as a thrilling half ended with three goals.
Morgan Sanson then secured a point for the visitors with an equaliser in the 69th minute as Lorient’s search for a new manager goes on with Remi Garde reported to have turned down an offer this week.
Finally, Christophe Mandanne and Alou Diarra scored in the first 12 minutes of the game as Nancy secured a 2-0 win over fellow strugglers Caen.