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Monaco out of drop zone as Balotelli leads Marseille

Gelson Martins has made an immediate impact at Monaco since joining on loan from Atletico Madrid in January © AFP / YANN COATSALIOU

PARIS, France, Feb 16 Monaco climbed out of the Ligue 1 relegation places on Saturday with a 1-0 win over Nantes, while Mario Balotelli scored for the third time in four games for a resurgent Marseille.

After failing to win at home all season until the start of February, Monaco made it back-to-back victories at the Stade Louis II as Gelson Martins fired in a Rony Lopes cross on 13 minutes.

Portugal international Martins, also on target in last week’s 2-2 draw at Montpellier, has scored twice in three league appearances for Monaco following his arrival on loan from Atletico Madrid.

Leonardo Jardim’s side moved up to 16th and two points clear of Dijon in the relegation play-off place.

Marseille defeated Amiens 2-0 to record three straight wins for the first time this season and jump to fourth, six points behind Lyon in the final Champions League spot.

Mario Balotelli has rediscovered his goalscoring form following a January move from Nice © AFP / CHRISTOPHE SIMON

Balotelli failed to find the net in 10 matches for Nice this season but has found his goalscoring touch since his switch to Marseille last month.

Florian Thauvin bagged his 12th goal this term to give Marseille the lead on 19 minutes at the Stade Velodrome, and Balotelli swept in a second on the turn just six minutes later.

The Italian appeared to have grabbed a second midway through the second half when he nodded in from a free-kick, but the goal was ruled out for offside following a VAR review.

“It’s much too early (to talk about the top three) with the start to the season we had,” said Thauvin.

“We were left behind a bit and now we’re starting to come back well, but if we get carried away we’re going to quickly fall back on the ground.”

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Patrick Vieira’s Nice crashed to a heavy 3-0 loss at mid-table Angers but remain seventh.

Runaway leaders Paris Saint-Germain go to fifth-placed Saint-Etienne on Sunday, while Lille will target a sixth consecutive win at home to Montpellier.

Lyon overcame bottom side Guingamp 2-1 on Friday in their final outing before Tuesday’s Champions League last 16 first leg at home to Lionel Messi’s Barcelona.


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