Bordeaux 0 - 0 Nice: Nine-man Nice hold Bordeaux to goalless draw as Mario Balotelli sees red



Posted Thursday, December 22, 2016 by PA

Mario Balotelli and Younes Belhanda were sent off late on as Nice's lead at the top of Ligue 1 was reduced to two points following a goalless draw in Bordeaux.

The much-maligned Balotelli was given his marching orders for the second time this season in added time after a foul on Igor Lewczuk, while Belhanda followed soon after in a bad-tempered end to the clash.

Failure to win for Lucien Favre's side meant that Monaco were allowed to close the gap on the league leaders following their 2-1 defeat of Caen.

The table toppers started the night without their first choice back four of Bonfim Dante, Henrique Dalbert, Paul Baysse and Ricardo Pereira, forcing boss Favre to adopt an unfamiliar 4-3-3 system.

Despite that unrest, Nice started well with Wylan Cyprien and Arnaud Souquet both seeing early efforts at goal end up just wide of the target.

Balotelli was next to have a crack at the Bordeaux goal, but despite superbly turning inside the area, his effort drifted just wide of the post.

Les Girondins responded well and created the best opportunity of the match moments later when Yoan Cardinale failed to hold Diego Rolan's cross-shot but, on the follow-up, Filipe Malcom got it all wrong with the goal at his mercy.

In the ascendancy, the hosts continued to press as Rolan went close again with an acrobatic effort before Lewczuk's header failed to beat Yoan Cardinale.

However, it was Nice who went closest to notching in the first-half when Alassane Plea escaped the attentions of the hosts defence before going past keeper Jerome Prior, only for the former Lyon man to then miss the target.

Bordeaux appeared to react better to the half-time break and Rolan was a whisker away from breaking the deadlock on 55 minutes but, after latching on to Jeremy Toulalan's ball, the Uruguayan's effort beat Cardinale before coming back off the upright.

Nice took their time to get restarted and it wasn't until the 72nd minute when they had an effort of note at goal as Belhanda broke into the right side of the area before firing straight at Prior.

That appeared to kick the league leaders into gear and Balotteli forced a decent save from Prior, before Plea fired over the bar from the follow-up as Nice looked to grab a late winner.

Argentine keeper Walter Benitez, who had come on earlier as a replacement for the injured Cardinale, was next to be called upon and he stood firm as Gaetan Laborde fired in a decent effort at goal on the turn.

Bordeaux finished strongly but Rolan was unable to get the touch needed to open the scoring on 87 minutes from substitute Francois Kamano's teasing delivery towards the back post.

Despite having Balotelli and Belhanda sent off in the latter stages, though, Nice held on to go into the Christmas break top of Ligue 1.

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