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Balotelli praised by Garcia after netting winner against former club Nice

Mario Balotelli scored against his old club (Peter Byrne/PA)
Mario Balotelli scored against his old club (Peter Byrne/PA)

Marseille boss Rudi Garcia was full of praise for Mario Balotelli after the striker’s second-half header secured a 1-0 win against his old club Nice at the Stade Velodrome.

Balotelli headed home in the 61st minute to make it five goals in seven appearances for the Italy international since leaving Nice and joining Marseille in January.

Garcia was quoted by L’Equipe as telling Canal Plus after the game: “When we have a scorer like (Balotelli), of this calibre, we do not need 36 chances.

“I am very happy for him in the way he behaved. I think he handled this game very well beyond his goal.”

Marseille did not show a huge amount of attacking threat during a contest in which their most noteworthy effort other than the goal was a Florian Thauvin shot tipped over by Walter Benitez in the first half.

Earlier, a rare opportunity for the visitors saw Allan Saint-Maximin bring a good save out of Steve Mandanda.

Garcia’s side, fourth in Ligue 1, are now three points behind third-placed Lyon having won for the fifth time in a six-game unbeaten run.

“I’m happy with what we do but we are not where we want to be,” Garcia added.

“It was important to win tonight but we are already preparing the next match (against leaders Paris St Germain away next Sunday).

“We will have time to talk about it, we play a very big team, the best of the championship.”

Nice boss Patrick Vieira, whose side are ninth, was quoted by L’Equipe as saying: “It was rather complicated, but for Marseille too.

“It’s a bit like the first match (Marseille’s 1-0 at Nice in October), overall we can not say that Marseille has been better, but on arrival we lose.

“It is like our season, it is hard to create opportunities, but overall we have not been too much in danger.”