Nice 2 Reims 0: Germain and Ben Arfa send Puel's men third
Nice put pressure on Lyon in the race for Champions League football, going third in Ligue 1 with a 2-0 victory over struggling Reims on Friday.
The result, which came thanks to goals from Valere Germain and Hatem Ben Arfa, moves Nice third and a point clear of Lyon, who visit Toulouse on Saturday.
Claude Puel's men are a point behind Monaco in second ahead of the principality club's visit to Rennes.
Reims, meanwhile, remain just two points above the bottom three, but could have opened the scoring in the fourth minute when Gaeten Charbonnier's volley forced Yoan Cardinale into action in the Nice goal.
But seven minutes later Nice broke the deadlock, Germain capping off a free-flowing passing move by meeting Ben Arfa's throughball with a clever dinked finish.
Johann Carrasso prevented Germain from converting Ben Arfa's free-kick and making it 2-0 with a fine low save.
The Reims goalkeeper produced a smart stop to deny Ben Arfa in a one-on-one, but the former Newcastle United playmaker was celebrating 11 minutes into the second half, winning a penalty after being fouled by Anthony Weber.
Ben Arfa's coolly taken spot-kick down the middle of the goal doubled Nice's lead and proved to be enough to bolster their hopes of playing in Europe's premier club competition despite the hosts wasting a number of other second-half chances.