PARIS Mario Balotelli struck twice as Ligue 1 leaders Nice won 2-1 at home to Dijon on Sunday to widen the gap to French champions Paris St Germain.
The Italian striker, who now has eight goals from as many league appearances, found the back of the net in each half, either side of Julio Tavares's equaliser for the visitors.
Dijon finished with 10 men after captain Cedric Varrault picked up two yellow cards in quick succession two minutes from time.
The result put Nice on 43 points from 18 games, seven points ahead of third-placed Paris St Germain, who slumped to their fourth defeat of the season when they lost 2-1 at En Avant Guingamp on Saturday.
Monaco, who have scored 11 goals in their last two competitive games, will move within one point of Nice if they beat visiting Olympique Lyonnais later on Sunday.
Balotelli put the hosts ahead on 32 minutes, converting a penalty after Alassane Plea was brought down in the area.
Dijon hit back five minutes later when Tavares also converted from the spot, after Arnaud Souquet was sanctioned for dangerous play.
Balotelli restored the 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.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Toby Davis)