Nice coach Patrick Vieira has called out striker Mario Balotelli for a “less than average” performance in their 1-0 win at Nimes on Saturday.
The visitors had an early numerical advantage as Faitout Maouassa was sent off with his second yellow card just 20 minutes into the game, before Nimes team-mate Loic Landre was shown a red just before half-time.
Still, it took until after the hour mark for Nice to find the lead through Youcef Atal, whose goal proved enough to earn Nice a third consecutive win in Ligue 1.
With two shots on target before his substitution 15 minutes before the end, Balotelli had a quiet game once again and is yet to find the net or set up a goal this season.
But Vieira felt Balotelli, along with the rest of his side should have made a bigger impact on the game and hopes to see better in the future.
“It’s been a tough and complicated match for Nice, we’ve suffered a lot, it’s been less than an average match,” he told reporters. “We take the three points, but we come home with the feeling that there is still a lot of work to be done. In the future, we will have to produce better displays than tonight to continue our progress.
“We didn’t put enough pressure on our opponent. Just like Mario Balotelli, we were less than average.”
Italy international Balotelli was unhappy at being taken off, but Vieira had seen enough as he called on the forward to work for his team.
“It’s good that he is angry because he does not want to come off,” he said. “His goal may be at the next game, but what’s important is how he worked for the goal. I’m not worried about that side of things, what worries me is the team and how he continues to work for the team.”
Balotelli had cut a frustrated figure during the match, clapping the home fans when they jeered him for making a misplaced pass early in the second half then blowing a kiss to them as he walked off when he was replaced.