Nice too strong for Reims
Nice made it five wins from their last seven Ligue 1 matches with a confident 2-0 victory over 10-man Reims on Friday night.
Last Updated: 22/02/13 10:08pm
Nice made it five wins from their last seven Ligue 1 matches with a confident home victory over 10-man Reims at the Stade du Ray.
Valentin Eysseric's 11th-minute penalty and Renato Civelli's 85th-minute clincher moved the hosts to within a point of third-placed Marseille, who face leaders Paris St Germain on Sunday evening.
Having won just once in their last 18 attempts, defeat for Reims, who had Aissa Mandi sent off for a second booking in the 68th minute, means they remain just a point from safety in 17th place.
With home expectations high, Nice began the game the brighter with Eysseric at the forefront of all their good play.
The on-loan Monaco player was the first to test Kossi Agassa but the Reims keeper got down well to save his cross-shot after Kevin Anin, Alexy Bosetti and Eric Bautheac had combined well.
Moments later, Nice were gifted a golden opportunity when they were awarded a penalty after Bosetti was brought down in the area following a Mickael Tacalfred lunge.
Eysseric took responsibility and made no mistake from 12 yards to score his fifth goal of the season.
Reims continued to struggle with the Nice attack and it could easily have been 2-0 inside 20 minutes after Bosetti found himself one-on-one with Agassa, but the midfielder sliced his attempted chip wide.
It was a similar outcome on the half-hour mark following another incisive Nice attack. Eysseric pulled the ball back into the path of Bosetti but the 19-year-old's shot failed to find the target from a promising position.
The hosts were dealt a blow early in the second half when their impressive captain Didier Digard went off with a back injury and moments later they had a let-off when Reims' Gaetan Courtet threaded Odair Fortes through on goal but his heavy touch allowed David Ospina to gather.
Improved efforts from Reims in the second half were all but undone with 20 minutes to go when the visitors were reduced to 10 men.
Mandi cynically brought down Nemanja Pejcinovic leaving the referee with no choice but to show the defender his second yellow card of the game.
Nice made full use of their man advantage and nearly doubled their lead through substitute Luigi Bruins with 10 minutes left.
Once again Eysseric was the instigator and he pulled the ball back into the path of the Dutch debutant but his effort was superbly palmed away by Agassa.
The points were all but secured for Nice soon after though when Civelli doubled their lead.
Bautheac whipped a free-kick in and the Argentinian defender sent a header beyond Agassa at the far post.