Mario Balotelli nets brace in first half to propel Nice to Europa League knockouts
Mario Balotelli's perfect start carried Nice to the Europa League round of 32. AP

MARIO Balotelli's two strikes help Nice to qualify from Group K to the Europa League round of 32 after a 3-1 win over Zulte Waregem on Thursday (Friday, Manila time).

Balotelli scored twice in the first half to secure a knockout spot for Nice. In a perfect start, Balotelli converted from the penalty spot, sending goalkeeper Louis Bostyn the wrong way. The striker made it 2-0 from close range in the 31st to put the hosts in control with his fourth goal in five Europa League games this season.

Adrien Tameze added a late goal for Nice, while Brian Hamalainen scored the consolation goal for Waregem.

Nice joins Group K winner Lazio in the next round, after the Italian club was held to a 1-1 draw at home by Vitesse.


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