PARIS Nice dealt Paris St Germain's Ligue 1 title hopes a huge blow by beating them 3-1 in a stormy match on Sunday which ended with the losing side receiving two red cards.
Second-placed PSG, who have three games to play, were left three points behind leaders AS Monaco who also have a game in hand. Nice trail PSG by another three points in third.
Mario Balotelli and Ricardo Pereira scored to put Nice 2-0 ahead before Marquinhos pulled one back. Anastasios Donis scored Nice's third in the 90th minute, in between red cards for Thiago Motta and Angel Di Maria.
Tempers had flared several times before that, with PSG forward Edinson Cavani in the thick of the trouble.
Nice went ahead in the 26th minute after Ricardo Pereira broke out of his half and charged down the right.
He seemed to have run into a dead end but turned back and laid the ball off to Balotelli, who held off Marco Verratti and curled a low shot under Kevin Trapp's hands and into the corner from 20 metres for his 14th goal of the season.
Shortly afterwards, there was a flare-up when Paul Baysee and Cavani tangled in the Nice penalty area but the referee let the feuding pair off with a warning.
Nice extended their lead three minutes after halftime, Pereira cutting inside and curling the ball past Trapp after Younis Belhanda had led a quick counter-attack.
That was followed by more trouble, firstly when Cavani pushed Nice coach Lucien Favre out of the way to retrieve the ball and then when Balotelli angered Blaise Matuidi by show-boating near the corner flag.
Marquinhos pulled a goal back in the 64th minute and a PSG equaliser looked on the cards until Motta was sent off for an incident in the Nice penalty area after the ball had been cleared.
From the resulting free kick, Nice goalkeeper Yoan Cardinale sent Pereira away down the right and his cross was headed in by Donis at the far post. PSG's frustration boiled over when Di Maria recklessly scythed down Arnaud Souquet and was sent off.
Florian Thauvin scored a hat-trick to lead sixth-placed Marseille to a 5-1 win at relegation-threatened Caen while Maxime Lopez scored the other two for the visitors.
The result sent Caen into 18th place, the relegation playoff spot, while Dijon moved above them on goal difference after a 0-0 draw against Bordeaux.
(Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; Editing by Clare Fallon)