Wylan Cyprien’s goal gives Nice victory over St Etienne
Mario Balotelli went close to scoring a second as Nice climb to sixth.
Wylan Cyprien’s early free-kick was enough to maintain Nice’s pursuit of Ligue 1’s top four as they secured a hard-fought 1-0 victory over St Etienne.
Leo Lacroix, Paul Georges Ntep and Loic Perrin had all threatened for the visitors in quick succession before Cyprien struck with 22 minutes played, and from that point on, the home side started to flex their muscles.
Mario Balotelli went close to a second two minutes before the break and Patrick Burner and Bassem Srarfi after it, but they could not increase their lead and keeper Walter Benitez had to make a late save from Gabriel Silva after Yann M’Vila had only just missed the target as St Etienne finished strongly.
The home side took the lead in first-half injury time when full-back Jorge fired home from distance, and they were handed a significant advantage five minutes after the restart when Metz keeper Eiji Kawashima was dismissed for a challenge on striker Adama Diakhaby.
Monaco made the pressure tell within 17 minutes when frontman Rachid Ghezzal extended their lead from Thomas Lemar’s pass.
However, the bottom-of-the-table visitors gave themselves hope when Ibrahim Niane dragged them back into it with a 72nd-minute header to set up a tense conclusion.
But Lopes dispelled the nerves with a close-range finish nine minutes from time to keep his side firmly in the hunt for a top-four finish.