PARIS: Paris Saint-Germain's dreams of defending its domestic treble are beginning to fade after the champions slumped to a 3-1 defeat at Nice in the French league on Sunday, finishing the match with only nine men.
A day after leader Monaco warmed up for the first leg of its Champions League semifinal against Juventus with a win over Toulouse, PSG was handed only its second loss this year across all competitions. The capital club is now three points behind Monaco, which has a game in hand and also has a far superior goal difference of +20.
With just three matches left, Nice remained in third place but moved within three points of PSG.
PSG has already won the League Cup and will take on Angers in the French Cup final.
Goals from Mario Balotelli and Ricardo Pereira gave Nice a 2-0 lead before Marquinhos pulled one back soon after the hour mark. Tempers frayed toward the end and Thiago Motta was sent off in the 90th minute, with Angel Di Maria being shown a straight red card in added time for a dangerous lunge, just after Anastasios Donis made it 3-1 on the break.
PSG had only previously lost to Barcelona in 2017 - a 6-1 thrashing in the Champions League and it had the upper hand early in the game. But the visitors failed to convert two good chances before Balotelli scored his 14th goal of the season against the run of the play.
The former Italy international received the ball on the edge of the area, got the better of Marco Verratti and curled a left-foot low shot into the back of the net in the 26th minute.
Pereira doubled Nice's lead 20 minutes later, at the end of a fast counterattack launched by Younes Belhanda, with a stunning shot past keeper Kevin Trapp into the top left corner.
PSG players pushed hard to get back in the match and were demanding a penalty in the 57th minute after Julian Draxler went down in the box, but referee Rudy Buquet waved away their claims. The visitors finally managed to pull one back when Thiago Silva connected with a corner from Di Maria, with the ball being deflected into the net by Marquinhos. PSG then dominated proceedings until the end, but conceded a late goal to Donis in a frantic ending.
CAEN 1, MARSEILLE 5
Florian Thauvin scored a hat trick and set-up another goal as Marseille kept its hopes of qualifying for the Europa League alive.
With three matches left in the season, Marseille extended its unbeaten run to eight games and moved within one point of fifth-place Bordeaux, which earned a goalless draw at Dijon.
A sixth-place finish could be enough to qualify for the second-tier European competition if Paris Saint-Germain wins the French Cup.
Thauvin needed only two minutes to put the visitors ahead. After Marseille took advantage of a poor clearance, Thauvin controlled the ball with his chest and rifled a volley into the top left corner.
Thauvin turned provider three minutes later when he delivered a precise cross for Maxime Lopez, who slotted the ball between keeper Remy Vercoutre's legs.
Caen recovered from its nightmare start and Ivan Santini pulled one back in the ninth minute. But a mistake from Vercoutre helped Marseille restore its two-goal lead near the half-hour mark. Vercoutre failed to control a fine effort from Dimitri Payet and Lopez sealed his brace from the rebound.
The hosts failed to convert two good chances before the interval and were caught on the break when Thauvin made it 4-1 in the 63rd minute with a curling shot from the edge of the area.
Thauvin sealed the rout following another quick counterattack, using great technique to control a pass from Morgan Sanson with his thigh and find the back of the net with a left-foot shot.
DIJON 0, BORDEAUX 0
Bordeaux withstood a wave of attacks toward the end of the second half and veteran goalkeeper Cedric Carrasso made a last-minute save to salvage a crucial point in the race for Europe.
Carrasso stopped a powerful half-volley from Changhoon Kwon with a firm right hand, deep in added time, as Bordeaux remained unbeaten for a fourth straight league game.
Dijon is out of the bottom three, but level on points with 18th-place Caen, and with three games left will have to fight for its survival in the topflight.