Mario Balotelli scores late winner for OGC Nice, then gets sent off 6 minutes later!
While Italian striker Mario Balotelli is enjoying a mini-renaissance in the French riviera with OGC Nice after his transfer from Liverpool earlier this summer, he was involved in another typically bizarre series of events in Nice’s match against Lorient, which Nice won 2-1.
After scoring a stunning winning goal for his team in the 86th minute, Balotelli received a yellow card from the referee for taking off his shirt in celebration. And just 6 minutes later, he received his marching orders for another yellow card offence!
Luckily for Mario, the sending off came in the dying stages of the match and Nice still went on to hold their lead. It was the hosts Nice who opened the scoring in the 11th minute through Ricardo Pereira, the full back’s powerful shot going through the hands of the Lorient keeper.
But Lorient equalised in the 61st minute courtesy a clever finish by Benjamin Moukandjo, only for Mario to come up with the winner – a stunning effort into the top right corner from the edge of the box – with four minutes of normal time remaining.
Balotelli has scored 6 in the season; Nice go to the top of the league
Amazingly, this was Balotelli’s sixth goal in his last five appearances, and he has already overtaken his goal tally of three goals scored for Liverpool.
The win took Nice to the top of the Ligue 1 standings, one point ahead of their riviera rivals AS Monaco.
The sending off
To be fair to Mario, a case can be made for his innocence in the second yellow card offence. Lorient defender Steven Moreira is seen saying words to Balotelli first and Balotelli does little but stand his ground.
He does seem to tilt his head a little towards Moreira, but the yellow card was slightly harsh on both the players in this instance.
Balotelli would be hoping that his form for Nice propels him into the limelight of European football once again, after underperforming for the good part of three seasons now.
During Euro 2012, he announced himself on to the big stage for Italy, scoring crucial goals for his national team throughout the tournament, including the famous piledriver from outside the box against Manuel Neuer of Germany.
However, he has not been picked for Italy’s latest squad during the ongoing international break.