PARIS (AP) French league leader Monaco prepared for its Champions League showdown with Manchester City by beating Bordeaux 2-1, a win overshadowed by an injury to top scorer Radamel Falcao on Saturday.
Falcao, who has 24 goals this season, went to ground clutching his ribs late on after a heavy challenge from Bordeaux defender Nicolas Pallois.
The striker got back up, only to go straight down to his knees again. Although he did not need the stretcher that went on for him, preferring to hobble off, it was unclear if the injury will rule him out of Wednesday’s last-16 return leg.
“He received a violent blow to his right side,” coach Leonardo Jardim said. “I hope it’s not serious.”
Monaco’s win moved it five points clear of Nice and – although Monaco’s formidable goal tally reached 123 this season – it was a labored win against a resilient side chasing a place in the Europa League.
Teenage striker Kylian Mbappe pounced midway through the second half with his fourth goal in three games and midfielder Joao Moutinho scored a brilliant curling shot.
After good work from Falcao, the 18-year-old Mbappe finished with a crisp low shot from just inside the penalty area in the 68th minute for his 16th goal of the season.
Six minutes later, Moutinho collected a pass from Portuguese compatriot Bernardo Silva some 25 meters out to the right of the penalty area and curled a superb first-time shot into the top left without breaking stride.
“I saw it coming, but it was magnificent. The ball dipped at the last moment,” Bordeaux goalkeeper Cedric Carrasso said. “Sometimes you just have to appreciate a great goal.”
Moutinho’s goals for Monaco are as rare as they are for Portugal, and this was only his eighth in 117 league games.
Next week in the Champions League, Monaco has to overturn a 5-3 deficit from the first leg to advance, and will need goalkeeper Danijel Subasic to start concentrating again.
He let in a sloppy goal against City three weeks ago and an even worse one on Saturday – gifting Bordeaux a lifeline with six minutes left.
After a Monaco attack broke down, Bordeaux hopefully lofted the ball forward. There was no immediate danger as defender Jemerson collected the ball near the halfway line. But his hurried back pass was under-hit and forced Subasic to come out of the area to clear it.
But the goalkeeper waited too long. When he did clear, the ball struck Bordeaux striker Diego Rolan and then bounced back off Subasic’s face into the path of Rolan, who ran through and tapped into an empty net.
Jardim refused to criticize him.
“I said to Suba: `How many important saves have you made for us?'” Jardim said. “A lot, so stop thinking about it.”
Monaco is six points clear of third-placed Paris Saint-Germain. The defending champion travels to last-placed Lorient on Sunday.
There were plenty of goals elsewhere.
Guingamp moved up to eighth place with different scorers on target in a 5-0 home romp against relegation candidate Bastia.
Striker Emiliano Sala netted a last-minute winner as Nantes won at Montpellier 3-2 to move up to 10th.
Another late winner from midfielder Rony Lopes earned Lille a 2-1 win at Nancy, easing the club’s relegation fears. But Nancy dropped to 18th.
Ninth-placed Rennes drew 1-1 at home to Dijon.
Chelsea’s Conte wins pair of top managerial honors
A knee injury kept him from England’s last two matches, and Rooney scored just twice in 2016 for England.
Rooney will likely need to leave Manchester United for any hope of rejuvenating his England career, but the absence doesn’t necessarily spell the end for him, as evidenced by Jermain Defoe‘s recent England revitalization.
Arsenal – They fooled us again, you know? Arsenal ran through the Premier League following an Opening Day loss to Liverpool, not seeing another ‘L’ until a Dec. 13 loss at Everton. That one could count as a moment, but we’ll choose the following match. Raheem Sterling finished a classy Kevin De Bruyne pass to give the Gunners’ two losses in a row, and Arsenal wouldn’t beat a PL contender until toppling injury-hit Manchester United on May 7.
Bournemouth – Eddie Howe‘s bunch were winless in seven and trending downward when it arrived at Old Trafford on March 5. Marcos Rojo put United ahead in the 22nd and ex-Red Devil forward Josh King leveled via penalty in the 40th. The Cherries seemed doomed when Andrew Surman was sent off in the 45th, but somehow held on to grab a point (A missed Zlatan Ibrahimovic penalty didn’t help things). Bournemouth won its next two, then drew Liverpool and Southampton en route to a top half finish.
Burnley – The Clarets can thank Mike Dean for their signature moment, a 1-0 win via a handled Sam Vokes effort that moved Burnley into ninth place in the league. Ninth place for little old Burnley. Sean Dyche‘s club would stay up. Now where will it go?
Chelsea – The Blues led the Premier League after August, but had dropped to eighth by the end of September. By the start of November, Chelsea sat fourth in the table. Everton arrived at Stamford Bridge, and the Blues absolutely throttled the Merseyside club. Eden Hazard scored twice, the first moments before Marcos Alonso made it 3-0, and both Diego Costa and Pedro had also scored before the match was through. 5-0 spelled the fifth-straight win, and the Blues went on to win a historic 13-straight PL games.
Everton – It was a season, or at least half-season, of “so close” for Ronald Koeman‘s men. It didn’t get much clearer than the match that followed the Toffees’ second loss in the Merseyside Derby. Everton looked set for a rebound and a win at Old Trafford when Ashley Williams’ handled Luke Shaw’s stoppage time shot to allow Zlatan Ibrahimovic a penalty kick that stole a point for the Red Devils.
Hull City – Unsure if this counts as “the season”, but Steve Bruce quitting the club three weeks before the season because of a lack of transfer ambition (amongst other things) spelled doom for the club far before Marco Silva nearly saved their season.
Leicester City – Firing Claudio Ranieri was a massive risk. The Foxes had posted the most remarkable season in world soccer less than a year before cutting ties with the Italian. While some — like me — would argue that transfer pick-up Wilfred Ndidi was the real reason for the turnaround, it also coincided with the managerial change.
Liverpool – The Reds had a knack for playing like results were expected against lesser lights, and late conceded goals are easy to find when reviewing their season (See Swansea below). It happened against powerful Manchester United, but it also happened against Sunderland. Jermain Defoe scored the second goal of his brace in the 84th minute to cost the Black Cats two points… again.
Manchester City – Pep Guardiola led City to six-straight PL wins at the start of the season, but could only watch as Mauricio Pochettino and Spurs bettered him 2-0 at White Hart Lane to drop City to 6-1. It was one of just six losses on the season, five of which came away from the Etihad Stadium. That away form didn’t impress Guardiola, and it didn’t help City chase the title.
Manchester United – While their moment may still be coming in the form of Wednesday’s Europa League Final against Ajax, we’ll go with Jose Mourinho’s first tournament win with United: the EFL Cup Final. NBC analyst Robbie Earle often talks about good teams needing to find a way to win when they aren’t at their best, and United did it at Wembley. It could be a harbinger of what’s to come.
Middlesbrough – Boro went to West Brom on Aug. 28, unbeaten in a pair of PL matches. It remained unbeaten following the 0-0 draw, but the zero on its side of the scoreboard was extra significant for one reason: It was the first of a whopping 19 times that the Smoggies were kept off the scoreboard, including seven scoreless draws.
Southampton – Most of these moments are related to Premier League play, but the perfect summation of Saints’ up-and-down season may be the EFL Cup Final. Many believe Saints were the better side that day, only to fall short. The same can be said for their Europa League campaign. But results matter, and Saints didn’t make it back to Europe via either route.
Sunderland – The Black Cats managed to take multiple steps back for every step forward, so it’s fitting that we mark the 4-0 loss at home to Southampton on Feb. 11. It followed a 4-0 win against old manager Sam Allardyce and Crystal Palace and a scoreless draw against Spurs. Sunderland was battered by a pair Manolo Gabbiadini goals, and the loss started a run that saw the Black Cats manage points in a whopping three of its 14 remaining matches.
Tottenham Hotspur – Spurs lost just four Premier League matches this season, and responded to each with a PL win. Three of those were blowouts, and the fourth was a 2-1 May win over Manchester United. One of those bounce backs happened to be two weeks after a road loss to Liverpool and three days after Spurs were bounced from the Champions League by Genk, as Harry Kane scored one of his four season hat trick and Dele Alli also scored in a 4-0 demolition of Stoke City.
West Bromwich Albion – There’s a moment in every season which sees Tony Pulis‘ Baggies tease us with what they could do if they just allowed a little bit of open play to hamper their “Just Survive” mentality. This year it was a 3-1 win over Arsenal which begged West Brom supporters to imagine life in the Top Seven, only to let them down with another post-safety collapse. Woof.