Mario Balotelli sent off but Nice still win to move second in Ligue 1
Lorient 0 - 1 Nice

Mario Balotelli sent off but Nice still win to move second in Ligue 1

Mario Balotelli was sent off for the third time this season in Ligue 1 as Nice leapfrogged Paris Saint-Germain into second place in the table after a 1-0 win at bottom club Lorient.

Balotelli, a free signing from Liverpool last summer, was shown a straight red card for dissent in the 68th minute.

From initial video replays, it seemed difficult to ascertain what Balotelli did wrong other than backing into Lorient defender Zargo Toure with his arms up as they challenged for a ball.

Nice coach Lucien Favre was no closer to an explanation after the game, although he suggested Balotelli may have spoken out of turn to referee Tony Chapron.

"I didn't see what happened. All of a sudden he was coming off and I said to myself, 'What's happened?'" Favre said. "I didn't see when he gave the red card and I don't know why. It seems that he talked back to the referee."

Favre refuted any notion that Balotelli might be getting singled out unfairly by referees, adding: "He's not on referees' radars. They are totally neutral. If there is reason to send a player off, then they will.''

Balotelli, who has scored 11 goals for Nice this season, was dismissed for two yellow cards against Lorient in October and received a straight red card in the goalless draw at Bordeaux in December.

Nice had taken a 15th-minute lead through Wylan Cyprien's low angled shot and although Lorient went close to equalising on several occasions, through Majeed Waris and Alhassan Wakaso in particular, the visitors held on for their first away win since November.

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