Vieira’s Nice extends winning streak to 5 games
PARIS (AP) — Patrick Vieira’s Nice extended its match-winning streak to five games with a 2-0 win against Lille in the French league on Sunday.
From 15th place in September after three losses in his first six games as Nice manager, the former Arsenal great has now steered the Mediterranean team to seventh, with Saint-Etienne, Marseille, Lille and Montpellier just ahead, all within three points.
Since losing 1-0 to Marseille in October, Nice has kept clean sheets in four successive league wins and beaten Auxerre 3-2 in the League Cup.
“We’re getting better and better,” said defender Malang Sarr. “Racking up clean sheets is good for confidence.”
Nice’s goals came in the first half from Wylan Cyprien and the second half from Allan Saint-Maximin.
Vieira’s latest win followed a much-needed first victory as manager for his former Arsenal teammate Thierry Henry, further along the Mediterranean coast in Monaco.
Monaco’s 1-0 win at Caen on Saturday, after four losses and two draws since Henry took the reins in October, came courtesy of a sweetly struck free kick from Radamel Falcao.
Vieira and Henry will meet as managers when Nice travels to Monaco on Dec. 7.
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Lille was second behind runaway league leader Paris Saint-Germain through October but hasn’t won in four games and has dropped back to fourth, just behind Montpellier.
Both have 26 points, but Montpellier has the better goal difference.
Montpellier missed an opportunity to vault over Lyon into second place by drawing 2-2 against Rennes on Sunday.
Hatem Ben Arfa opened the scoring for Rennes but Montpellier took the lead with goals from Andy Delort on either side of halftime. Benjamin Bourigeaud equalized for Rennes with a penalty in the last 20 minutes.
Florian Thauvin stole the show in the weekend’s last game, with a hat trick that earned Marseille a 3-1 win at Amiens. Marseille also had Dimitri Payet’s penalty saved by Amiens goalkeeper Regis Gurtner.
Bakaye Dibassy scored for Amiens. Marseille climbed to fifth place, with 25 points. Nice has 23.