Paris (AFP) – Pocket-sized midfielder Jean Michael Seri netted twice in the second half as Nice came from behind to beat Nancy 3-1 on Saturday and secure a crack at next season’s Champions League.
Junior Dale gave struggling Nancy the lead at the Allianz Riviera but Mikael Le Bihan levelled before the break and Ivory Coast international Seri took centre stage in the second half, scoring one of his goals from the penalty spot.
Lucien Favre’s side have been hit by injuries to key players in recent weeks and 13-goal top scorer Mario Balotelli was absent due to another suspension, but they dug deep to extend their unbeaten run to 10 matches.
Nice, who have lost just twice in the league all season, remain very much in title contention as they sit just a point behind leaders Monaco and defending champions Paris Saint-Germain.
However, they have played a game more than PSG and two matches more than Monaco, who host Dijon later on Saturday in between the two legs of their Champions League quarter-final against Borussia Dortmund.
For Nice the result also means Lyon in fourth are 19 points behind them with just 18 points to play for, and so they will represent France in the Champions League for the first time next season.
Again Favre’s men did it the hard way as for the fifth straight game they fell behind.
Valentin Eysseric made a hash of clearing his lines following a Nancy corner on 26 minutes and the visitors took full advantage, Julien Cetout’s ball across the face of goal being turned in at the far post by Dale.
But the hosts were back level 10 minutes before the interval as Younes Belhanda’s superb pass found Le Bihan, who took a touch and fired home to mark his first start since September 2015 with a goal.
Le Bihan, starting in the absences of Balotelli and the injured Alassane Plea, had been out of the game for 17 months before coming off the bench to score twice in a 2-1 win over Montpellier in February.
Nice went in front early in the second half, Seri scoring from the spot after Dalbert was fouled by Issiar Dia on his way into the box.
And Eysseric set up Seri to score again with five minutes left to make sure of the points.
PSG won 2-0 at Angers on Friday with Angel Di Maria scoring both goals, including a majestic free-kick, to make it 14 league games unbeaten.