Versatile Dante helps Nice reclaim top spot in French league
ABS-CBN Sports on Dec 05, 2016 10:48 AM
(AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
SAMUEL PETREQUIN, AP Sports Writer
PARIS (AP) — Former Brazil international Dante delivered two assists — one with his right foot, one with his left — as Nice claimed back top spot in the French league with a 3-0 win over Toulouse on Sunday.
The elegant defender is one of the astute purchases made by Nice during the offseason, alongside Mario Balotelli and Younes Belhanda. Balotelli is still injured and did not play against Toulouse while Belhanda, a midfielder with excellent technique, made it 2-0 after Alassane Plea broke the deadlock.
Jean-Michael Seri completed the win with an angled right-footed shot.
Nice has a three-point lead over Monaco, which thrashed Bastia 5-0 on Saturday. Defending champion Paris Saint-Germain is lagging four points behind Nice in third place following its shock 3-0 loss against Montpellier.
Dante found Plea with a long ball to the back of the Toulouse defense in the 23rd minute, and the forward fired a low shot between 'keeper Alban Lafont's legs to put the hosts in front.
Three minutes later, Belhanda beat the offside trap and made the most of another lofted ball delivered by Dante, this time with his left foot. Belhanda controlled the ball and lobbed the powerless Lafont, who also lost his one-on-one with Seri in the 65th minute.
RENNES 2, SAINT-ETIENNE 0
Rennes' players needed time to shoot on target before Paul-Georges Ntep scored his first French league goal this season and inspired the Brittany side to a 2-0 win over Saint-Etienne on Sunday.
Rennes, which climbed to fourth, dominated the first half but missed several chances. Christian Gourcuff's team was more efficient after the interval, with Kamil Grosicki making it 2-0 in added time after Ntep had put the hosts in front in the 54th minute.
Yoann Gourcuff had been denied at 0-0 while Ntep and Adrien Hunou both missed chances. Rennes' efforts were finally rewarded when France international Ntep went inside the box, dribbled past defender Kevin Theophile-Catherine and fired a low shot at the near post.
Grosicki then scored a possible goal of the season with a superb finish from Ludovic Baal's cross. The Polish forward connected with the ball just inside the area and flicked it into the top right corner.
Rennes trails Nice by 12 points and has five more than Saint-Etienne.
MARSEILLE 3, NANCY 0
Marseille secured its biggest win this season with goals from Florian Thauvin, Bafetimbi Gomis and Clinton Njie.
After producing just one win and two goals in six matches under new coach Rudi Garcia, Marseille gave a convincing display of attacking football against a side which came to the Stade Velodrome to defend.
The win lifted the nine-time champions to 10th place, 18 points behind Nice.
Thauvin opened the scoring just after halftime with a shot into the top corner, Gomis netted his first goal since Garcia's arrival 10 minutes from time and Njie completed the rout in added time.
Gomis was insulted by his own Marseille fans during the game for recent positive comments he made about Saint-Etienne, his first club.