Hatem Ben Arfa made personal history as his first career hat-trick were the deciding goals which put Nice above opponents Rennes at the Allianz Riviera.
The former Newcastle United attacker got the opener with a cleanly placed penalty in the first half. A few minutes before the break, Ben Arfa inscribed his second of the game with an expert finish into the corner with his right foot. Finally, he left the best goal for last as he rocketed a shot from outside the box past Benoit Costil 11 minutes after the restart.
This game was billed as match of the week in Ligue 1 with Nice and Rennes both contesting with various other clubs around them for European football. However, Rolland Courbis' Rennes were not up to the task and their opponents took full advantage by dispatching them without too much hassle.
Dominant Nice rightfully ahead
In the opening 10 minutes both sides had promising opportunities to get the first goal of the game. Rennes centre-back Fallou Diagne saw his looping header following a corner go over the bar while at the other end Costil had to get a strong had behind the ball to stop Jean Michael Seri's low drive.
The France international stopper was made to work again soon after to deny Alassane Plea, who wriggled his way into the box to get a shot away from close range. Rennes were to get their biggest scare of the match thus far when Ricardo Pereira's swerving cross hit the under side of the crossbar and onto the line before moving back out.
On 32 minutes Nice were awarded a soft penalty after Sylvain Armand made contact with Seri on the edge of the box. Ben Arfa was tasked with hitting it, but even his delayed strike didn't effect him as he calmly placed the ball to the right of Costil.
Four minutes before the half-time whistle, Ben Arfa got his and Nice's second of the match. A smartly worked counter-attack ended with Ben Arfa in a prime scoring position. He composed himself and smacked a shot towards the opposite corner.
Sturdier Rennes still couldn't keep out Ben Arfa
Nice were ahead by three 11 minutes after the restart and once again it was Ben Arfa who was on the score sheet to achieve his first career hat-trick. The playmaker was invited to run close to the box by the Rennes defence and, just at the right point, he released a screamer with his left foot.
Rennes, although playing better in the second half, were not mustering up enough chances for themselves to bring the score back to being respectable. Ousmane Dembele was not his usual self, and the best he could get was a solo run which ended as he got into the final third.
On-loan Chelsea forward Jeremie Boga arguably had the best opportunity to score for Rennes. He was presented with a fantastic chance to beat Yoan Cardinale inside the box but the keeper stood firm to deny him.
The big chance of the match fell to Les Rouges et Noirs when Boga's free kick that was heading for the top-left corner was palmed away in another fantastic stop by Cardinale.
Next week Rennes will try and get back on the European trail as they host Guingamp in the Brittany Derby. Nice have to contest a couple of hard matches, starting off with Lyon next Friday evening.