England's Matthew Nixon will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the inaugural NH Collection Open after a superb 65 at La Reserva de Sotogrande.

Nixon, who had made just one cut on the European Tour this season before arriving in Spain, carded nine birdies and two bogeys to finish eight under par, one ahead of Italy's Marco Crespi.

"I really enjoyed it, the sun's been shining and I played really nicely," the 25-year-old from Manchester said.

"I don't remember much about it apart from the fact that I kept knocking them close and knocking the putts in. If I could do that again tomorrow it would come in handy.

"Today the conditions were obviously a little better, but it was just one of those days. I had a nice start and it just kept going."

Crespi made even more birdies than Nixon, carding 10 in total and five in a row from the 13th, but the two-time Challenge Tour winner also recorded four bogeys in his 66.

Chile's Felipe Aguilar was a shot further back on six under after a third round of 70, with Portugal's Ricardo Santos on five under thanks to a flawless 67.

Santos, who was rookie of the year in 2012 after becoming the first Portuguese player to win on home soil in the Madeira Islands Open, said: "I played really solid today, amazingly I didn't miss a shot.

"I was very consistent off the tee, which is very important on this course and really solid into the greens. The course is tough because we start with three very strong par fours and if you don't start really well you are struggling. That's probably the reason that we don't have really low scores under the better conditions."

England's David Horsey, Scotland's Marc Warren and Welshman Bradley Dredge had shared the halfway lead on five under when the second round was completed on Saturday morning, a knock-on effect of Thursday's rain delay.

However, Horsey's 73 was the best score that trio could manage and left him four off the pace on four under alongside Scotland's Richie Ramsay, South African Tjaart van der Walt and Spain's Adrian Otaegui.

Warren was six behind Nixon after a 75 while Dredge dropped five shots in his first three holes to slump to a 78.