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Title hopefuls Nice held at Bastia


Bastia (France) (AFP) – French title hopefuls Nice edged provisionally a point clear of Monaco but were Friday lamenting the loss of two points in a 1-1 draw at lowly Bastia.

The match was marred by an ugly incident beforehand when police reported some Bastia fans stoned the Nice team bus, breaking two windows, as it arrived at the Armand Cesari  stadium.

Nice’s official Twitter feed reported that the side had arrived safely “but their bus, a little less so.” The club also showed two pictures of the damaged vehicle.

Nice, welcoming back former Italy, Manchester City and Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli from suspension, had to come from behind as Congolese midfielder Prince Oniangue put the hosts ahead on 17 minutes.

Nice, bidding to win a fifth title but first since 1959, levelled through Arnaud Souquet just after the half hour.

But that was as good as it got for Lucien Favre’s shock pacesetters, who were held last week by another struggling side in Metz.

Bastia held out despite having skipper Yannick Cahuzac sent off midway through the second period.

Favre was quick to pinpint his side’s faults afterwards.

“We dominated and had the lion’s share of possession, even more after the sending off. But there was not enough movement. We lost too many balls and they pressed us well with a 4-3-2-1 to shut us out.

“We didn’t do enough tonight. Balotelli is not 100 percent and (asking him to) overcome a five-man defence is a tough ask.”

The draw — their fourth in five matches — leaves Nice with 46 points from 21 games one clear of Monaco, who host Lorient on Sunday and four ahead of reigning champions Paris Saint Germain, who are in action at Nantes on Saturday.

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