Nice is the surprise team of the French league once again, this time for the wrong reasons. Having finished third last season, losing only four games, Nice slumped to its sixth defeat of the campaign with a 2-1 home defeat to Strasbourg on Sunday.
An unheralded player from an island country in the central Atlantic Ocean did the damage, as Cape Verde striker Nuno Da Costa scored in each half for Strasbourg.
Midfielder Pierre Lees-Melou pulled a goal back in the 54th, scoring Nice’s penalty in the absence of striker Mario Balotelli, after defender Ernest Seka was sent off for fouling winger Allan Saint-Maximin.
But Strasbourg, which drew 3-3 with Marseille last weekend, held on for a win that moved the promoted side out of the relegation zone.
Da Costa, who was born in Praia _ the capital of Cape Verde _ joined in the summer from Valenciennes, a rival to Strasbourg in the second division last season.
He got his first goal midway through the first half when he lunged to turn in a first-time cross from right back Kenny Lala, and then used his pace to beat the defense and finish off a fine team move in the 49th.
“We played with a lot of intensity and it paid off for us,” Da Costa said. “What I do up front just reflects the quality of the play behind me.”
The defeat pushed coach Lucien Favre’s Nice down to 14th place.
Later Sunday, league leader Paris Saint-Germain traveled south to play bitter rival Marseille _ which lost 5-1 at home to PSG last season.
Memphis Depay sealed his hat trick with a coolly taken Panenka-style penalty, sending the goalkeeper the wrong way as Lyon cruised to a 5-0 win at Troyes.
The Netherlands forward earned the penalty in the 70th, running onto a fine pass from striker Mariano Diaz, drawing a defender and ending with a shot that defender Christophe Herelle saved with his arm. Herelle was shown the red card and Depay _ the designated penalty taker _ then argued with Diaz, who wanted to take it.
Depay almost scored a fourth goal after running onto midfielder Houssem Aouar’s defense-splitting pass, but snatched at his shot.
Winger Bertrand Traore, who scored against Everton in the Europa League on Thursday, turned in a cross from Brazilian left back Marcal in the 21st.
Four minutes into the second half, Depay made it 2-0 with a neat finish into the opposite corner after meeting a cross from the left.
Depay netted his second midway through the second half, curling the ball into the right corner following a fine surging run from Diaz.
“People expect a lot from me,” said Depay, who has five league goals this season. “I have to find my way in the team.”
Diaz was irrepressible and got Lyon’s fifth near the end with some neat footwork and a low finish.
The win moved Lyon up to fourth place, although Marseille will reclaim fourth if it beats PSG.
“I think we’re on the right track,” Traore said. “We need to keep this winning mentality.”