Balotelli scores 2 as Nice wins 2-1 at Lille to take 2nd

AP Photo/Claude Paris, File

PARIS (AP) Mario Balotelli scored his first away goals of the season as Nice won 2-1 at Lille to move up to second place in the French league on Friday.

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The Italian striker struck twice in the first half, with a neat cushioned volley and a tap-in, to take his season’s tally to 13. The previous 11 had all been scored at home.

Balotelli, who has four goals in the last four games, looked sharp throughout and had two other efforts saved in the first half and went close with a late free kick.

The win moved Nice two points above defending champion PSG, and one behind leader Monaco, heading into this weekend’s games.

Monaco is away at Angers on Saturday and PSG hosts Guingamp on Sunday.

Midfielder Ibrahim Amadou put Lille ahead in the 14th minute with a heavily deflected shot from outside the penalty area.

Three minutes later, Balotelli timed his run well to meet midfielder Valentin Eysseric’s superb floating pass, and then pounced on the stroke of halftime after right back Ricardo Pereira’s saved shot fell to his feet.

PSG and Monaco have a game in hand on Nice, which hosts PSG in three weeks’ time.

Lille is in 13th place but well clear of the relegation zone.