PARIS: Nice, the only unbeaten team in the French league, edged 10-man Marseille 1-0 with a late goal from substitute Evann Guessand to provisionally take top spot on Saturday.
Nice are one point clear of defending champion Paris Saint-Germain and two clear of Monaco. Kylian Mbappe scored from the spot and had an assist to fire PSG to a 3-0 win over Strasbourg earlier Saturday.
Monaco can take the top spot back with a win over promoted Metz on Sunday.
Marseille finished the game with 10 men after center back Leonardo Balerdi received a second yellow card for a late tackle on Pablo Rosario in the 78th minute. The subsequent set piece led to the winning goal for Nice as Guessand met a free kick from Jeremie Boga to score with a powerful header in the 79th.
“When we show solidarity and walk in the same direction, we do what we want,” Guessand told Canal Plus television. “There aren’t many teams that can worry us.”
Nice have the tightest defense in the league but was lucky to keep a sixth clean sheet in their last seven games since Marseille had the best chances. Nice goalkeeper Marcin Bulka palmed away a header by Amine Harit in the 62nd. Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang then beat Bulka with a chip in the 73rd only to see the ball bounce off the base of the post.
Marseille dropped to seventh place, five points outside the top three.
Mbappe scores again
In Paris, Mbappe raised his league tally to eight goals this season by converting a penalty in the 10th after Goncalo Ramos had been brought down. The France striker then beat the offside trap in the 31st to set up Carlos Soler for the second goal.
Spain midfielder Fabian Ruiz sealed the win by dribbling past a defender to lift the ball past goalkeeper Matz Sels in the 77th.
Mbappe had not scored in his four previous games for PSG. But he rediscovered his scoring touch during the international break by netting twice in a 2-1 win over the Netherlands on Oct. 13 to help France qualify for Euro 2024 before notching a goal and an assist to thrash Scotland 4-1 in a friendly.
PSG coach Luis Enrique rotated his players ahead of a key Champions League game at home against AC Milan on Wednesday. Ousmane Dembele and Randal Kolo Muani came off the bench in the second half while Manuel Ugarte, Achraf Hakimi and Milan Skriniar were in the squad but didn’t play.
“It was a challenging match, coming after the international break. A match without our supporters and ultras, which was a bit strange,” Luis Enrique told the club’s website. “But I believe the players and the team performed very well. They took the match very seriously and we achieved this excellent result. We didn’t concede any goals, gained three more points and it’s the perfect preparation for the Champions League match.”
On Friday, American forward Emmanuel Sabbi made his first league start for Le Havre in a goalless draw with Lens.