Mario who? Nice shrug off Balotelli injury

Mario Balotelli

Mario Balotelli

Alassane Plea grabbed a hat-trick as surprise Ligue 1 leaders Nice continued their terrific start to the season with a thrilling 4-2 victory at promoted Metz on Sunday.

With Mario Balotelli out injured, Plea assumed the lead role for Lucien Favre’s unbeaten side and netted the opener on 12 minutes before adding a second from the penalty spot after Georges Mandjeck had equalised.

Substitute Habib Diallo made it 2-2 midway through the second half for Metz but Plea struck for a third time on 84 minutes before Wylan Cyprien wrapped up the points in injury time.

“It’s a deserved win even if it was very tough. We played well,” said Favre.

“The players’ reaction was very good after they equalised for two-all. We’re incredibly happy to still be undefeated but we have to keep on working.”

It was a fifth successive win for Nice as they moved four points clear of second-place Monaco, while Metz have now conceded 14 goals in their last three home matches.

Earlier, on-loan duo Henri Saivet and Jordan Veretout scored their first Saint-Etienne goals since returning to France from Newcastle United and Aston Villa respectively in a 2-0 win away to Caen.

Paris Saint-Germain, in third, entertain Marseille in the Classique later on in what will be Rudi Garcia’s first match as coach of the visitors.

Monaco provisionally reclaimed second place on Friday with a 6-2 demolition of Montpellier at the Stade Louis II.

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Mario BalotelliNice
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