Nantes 1 Nice 1: Balotelli's side drop more points as Ligue 1 title challenge fades
The Ligue 1 title challenge of Nice suffered another blow on Saturday, as Lucien Favre's team were held to a 1-1 draw away to Nantes, dropping points for the second match in succession.
The result leaves Nice third, one point behind Paris Saint-Germain and four back from Monaco, who will both aim to pull away from the surprise early-season frontrunners when they face Lyon and Caen respectively on Sunday.
Nantes dominated the opening exchanges at the Stade de la Beaujoire and deservedly took the lead in the 22nd minute, Lucas Lima's cross from the left wing finding Jules Iloki, who laid it off to Emiliano Sala.
Goalkeeper Yoan Cardinale got a hand to the striker's powerful subsequent shot, but could not prevent it from hitting the back of the net.
Having mounted very little attacking threat throughout the early part of the game, Nice somehow found themselves level soon afterwards, when Jean Michael Seri ran onto Younes Belhanda's clever back-heel flick to smash a fierce strike past Maxime Dupe and into the top corner.
Prejuce Nakoulma twice went close to restoring Nantes' lead in a two-minute spell after the hour mark, his firm header from a Leo Dubois cross saved by Cardinale.
Just 60 seconds later, he did brilliantly to control a bouncing ball and dispatch a vicious, dipping half-volley inches wide of the far post, with the goalkeeper stranded.
Nakoulma picked up a yellow card in the 93rd minute for his protests after being denied a penalty following a challenge by Valentin Eysseric inside the area, referee Benoit Millot opting not to afford the hosts a golden opportunity to snatch all three points right at the death.