December 18, 2016 / 4:23 PM / in 7 months

Balotelli puts Nice seven points clear of PSG, Monaco lose

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Football Soccer - Nice v Dijon - French Ligue 1 - Allianz Riviera stadium, Nice, France 18/12/16. Nice's Mario Balotelli wears a Christmas hat at the end of the match.Eric Gaillard

PARIS (Reuters) - Nice striker Mario Balotelli struck twice as the Ligue 1 leaders won 2-1 at home to Dijon on Sunday to widen the gap over third-placed champions Paris St Germain.

The Italian, who now has eight goals from as many league appearances, scored in each half either side of Julio Tavares's equaliser for the visitors.

Dijon finished with 10 men after captain Cedric Varrault got two yellow cards in quick succession two minutes from time.

The result put Nice on 43 points from 18 games, seven ahead of PSG, who slumped to their fourth defeat of the season when they lost 2-1 at En Avant Guingamp on Saturday.

Ten-man Monaco went down 3-1 to Olympique Lyonnais for their first league loss in over two months and their first at home this season, leaving them four points off the pace in second.

Lyon are fourth on 31 points, with a game in hand, ahead of Guingamp with 29.

Football Soccer - Nice v Dijon - French Ligue 1 - Allianz Riviera stadium, Nice, France 18/12/16. Nice's Mario Balotelli celebrtaes with Alassane Plea after scoring.Eric Gaillard

Nice went ahead against visiting Dijon when Balotelli converted a penalty in the 32nd minute after Alassane Plea was brought down in the area.

Dijon hit back five minutes later when Tavares scored from the spot after Arnaud Souquet was penalised for dangerous play.

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Balotelli restored Nice's lead when he latched onto Souquet's cross from the right five minutes into the second half, although he appeared to be in an offside position.

Dijon, who pushed hard in the closing stages, were left in 18th place on 16 points, a point above FC Lorient.

Monaco's free-scoring run - 53 goals in 17 games - ended as Lyon's Rachid Ghezzal, Mathieu Valbuena and Alexandre Lacazette struck to send their side up to fourth on 31 points.

Tiemoue Bakayoko pulled one back but Monaco finished with 10 men after Benjamin Mendy was sent off late in the first half.

Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Toby Davis and Ken Ferris

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