PARIS: Hiring new coach Jocelyn Gourvennec brought an immediate reward to Nantes. The eight-time champions snapped a four-game winless run on Saturday to hand Nice their first loss in the French league just three days after Gourvennec was appointed.
Nice were unbeaten in 13 league matches before kickoff and had won eight of their last 10 matches.
The Riviera side remained in second place, one point behind leaders Paris Saint-Germain, who travel to Le Havre on Sunday. Nantes stood in eighth place, 12 points off the pace.
Nantes goalkeeper Alban Lafont made three decisive saves in the first half to help his side weather intense pressure from the visitors.
Florent Mollet broke the deadlock with a left-footed shot from close range in the 24th minute.
Douglas Augusto came close to doubling his team’s lead after an hour when his powerful half-volley hit the crossbar. Lafont was decisive again in the 63rd to deny Terem Moffi’s acrobatic kick.
Coach Pierre Aristouy, who helped Nantes avoid relegation last season, was fired on Wednesday and replaced by Jocelyn Gourvennec.
Gourvennec played 109 matches and scored 32 goals for Nantes from 1995-98. He started his coaching career in 2008 and also managed Guingamp and Bordeaux.
LENS BACK TO WINNING WAYS
Just days after getting hammered by Arsenal in the Champions League, Lens inflicted more misery on last-placed Lyon in a 3-2 victory.
Under the helm of interim coach Pierre Sage — who replaced Fabio Grosso this week — Lyon delivered a gritty display that will give the struggling seven-time champions some comfort in their fight against relegation.
Lyon made a strong start and led in the 14th minute from a goal by Jake O’Brien, who later completed a brace.
Wesley Said brought Lens level then Przemyslaw Frankowski gave the “Sang et Or” the lead from the penalty spot.
After O’Brien gave the visitors a glimmer of hope they could bring back a point from their trip to northern France, Frankowski connected with a cross from Ruben Aguilar and scored again with a left-footed shot to lift Lens within one point of fifth-placed Reims.
Unbeaten in their past nine league matches, Lens were thrashed at Arsenal 6-0 midweek for the biggest ever Champions League defeat by a French club.
Grosso were fired on Thursday after less than three months in charge at Lyon, a storied club known for its record run of seven straight league titles from 2002-08. The last time Lyon played in the second division was in 1989.