PARIS (AP) — Alassane Plea missed a golden chance with three minutes left and Nice saw its lead at the top of the French league cut to one point after a 1-1 home draw against struggling Bastia on Sunday.
Playing without the injured Mario Balotelli did not seem to be a problem for Nice, which dominated the first half and took control of the game after Plea scored his eighth goal in 14 league appearances.
On Nice's second corner, Plea made no mistake from a precise cross from Jean-Michael Seri and outjumped defenders to head the ball home at the far post in the 11th minute.
Bastia struggled for possession and did not threaten until a flash of brilliance from Mehdi Mostefa at the hour-mark, when the Algerian-French midfielder displayed great vision to put Yannick Cahuzac on goal with a through pass. Cahuzac's shot was parried away by 'keeper Yoan Cardinale, but Enzo Crivelli headed home the rebound.
Nice pushed hard during the last 30 minutes but was largely inefficient in front of goal as 'keeper Jean-Louis Leca denied Valentin Eysseric and Younes Belhanda before Malang Sarr sent his header off the post.
With three minutes left to play, Plea then looked like he would snatch the win for Nice after he rounded keeper Jean-Louis Leca, but the winger smashed his powerful effort against the bar with the goal empty.
Nice still moved one point above Monaco, which thrashed Marseille 4-0 on Friday while Bastia left the danger zone on goal difference.
ANGERS 1, SAINT-ETIENNE 2
Saint-Etienne put its offensive struggles aside to rally past Angers 2-1 after Oussama Tannane scored the winner, ending a four-match winless streak in the league.
Saint-Etienne, which has scored just 16 goals in 14 games this season, got off a bad start but Angers missed the chance to take the lead in the 12th minute when Famara Diedhiou had his penalty saved by Stephane Ruffier following a foul from Bryan Dabo in the box.
Angers did not wait long to break the deadlock, though, as the in-form Nicolas Pepe scored his second goal in as many games in the 18th minute. The 21-year-old Ivory Coast player was set up by a through ball from Pierrick Capelle, ran faster than Saint-Etienne defenders and dribbled Ruffier before scoring in an empty net with an angled shot.
The visitors improved a lot in the second half and leveled the score in the 59th minute when Florent Pogba surged at the far post, connected with a corner from Henri Saivet and sent his volley in for his first goal this season.
Saint-Etienne continued to push and earned the three points after Kevin Malcuit beat three players and passed the ball to Tannane, who used his burst of speed to leave defenders and found the net with a low shot in the 78th.
Malcuit was sent off in added time for a dangerous tackle on Pablo Martinez.