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Ligue 1: Monaco inch closer to title; PSG win big(ger) to stay alive

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PARIS (AP) Monaco moved closer to winning the French league and reaching 150 goals for the season with a comfortable 3-0 win at struggling Nancy on Saturday.

Earlier, Paris Saint-Germain maintained its slim hopes of retaining the title with a 5-0 home win against Bastia.

But Monaco is three points ahead of PSG with a game in hand and a much better goal difference. Monaco can effectively seal the title with a home win against Lille next Sunday. PSG has a difficult game at Saint-Etienne.

“We’re close,” Monaco midfielder Bernardo Silva said. “All the players deserve to win it.”

Monaco got off to the ideal start when defender Tobias Badila scored an own goal in the third minute. Silva made it 2-0 shortly before halftime when he headed in Thomas Lemar’s cross from the left.

Teen striker Kylian Mbappe used his pace to set up Lemar for the third, taking Monaco’s season tally to 149 in all competitions.

Monaco fans celebrated as if they’d won the league, while Monaco vice-president Vadim Vasilyev went on to the pitch to applaud them and congratulate his players.

It was the ideal preparation for the Champions League semifinal return leg at Juventus on Tuesday, when Monaco will look to overturn a 2-0 deficit.

Last-placed Bastia was infuriated less at losing than at a PSG goal it considered unsporting.

The second goal by Marco Verratti enraged Bastia’s players. PSG midfielder Blaise Matuidi went down under a challenge and PSG claimed a penalty that was not given. While Matuidi lay on the ground and clutched his leg, Bastia goalkeeper Jean-Louis Leca went over to check if he was injured.

Meanwhile, PSG threw in and, with Leca out of position and unsighted by PSG winger Julian Draxler standing in front of him, Verratti hit a swerving shot that caught Leca unaware and flew into the top corner.

“We’re angry with Verratti,” Bastia midfielder Lenny Nangis said. “He’s a great player and he doesn’t need to do that to score.”

Leca was incensed and rushed over to complain to the referee while PSG players celebrated. If anything, the goal should have been ruled out anyway, as Draxler was clearly offside and directly interfering with play by blocking Leca’s view.

“I’m a bit disgusted. I saw Matuidi was hurt and I tried to help Blaise up,” Leca said on Canal Plus. “But it’s not what cost us the game.”

Edinson Cavani struck twice to take his league tally to 33 and his overall total to 47. He also missed a penalty in the second half after appearing to blatantly dive in order to win it, and had two goals ruled out.

Bastia remained one point behind 19th-place Nancy with two games remaining.

Caen striker Ivan Santini’s 15th goal secured a 1-0 win at Toulouse and lifted the Normandy club three points away from the relegation zone.

Lorient, in 17th place, picked up a useful point after drawing with Angers 1-1. Next Sunday, Lorient visits Bastia.

Guingamp beat Dijon 4-0, with forwards Jimmy Briand and Yannis Salibur scoring two each.

Metz won 2-0 at Lille.

On Sunday, third-place Nice travels to play Marseille, which is trying to make the Europa League.

Wenger called ref Dean “not honest,” “a disgrace” to earn ban

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LONDON (AP) Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger accused a referee of being “not honest” and called him “a disgrace” in a rant inside the match officials’ changing room that led to a three-match touchline ban for one of English soccer’s most experienced coaches.

[ MORE: Tuesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Friday | Thursday ]

The English Football Association published Tuesday the written reasons behind its decision to ban Wenger for being abusive toward referee Mike Dean after Arsenal’s 1-1 draw at West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League on Dec. 31.

In his match report given to the FA, Dean said Wenger “was pointing aggressively at me saying, ‘You’re not honest’ on numerous occasions.” Dean then said Wenger said “you’ve done this to us many times before, you’re supposed to be professional, you’re a disgrace.”

[ MORE: Newcastle sale talks collapse — Staveley, not Ashley, out ]

Wenger had been incensed at Calum Chambers being penalized for a handball and West Brom converting the resulting penalty to equalize late in the game.

The FA said “there is simply no justification for this behavior” and considered a stadium ban for Wenger.

Wenger was also fined $54,200 for his conduct.

FA Cup: Leicester, West Ham survive replays to reach 4th round

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Two more Premier League sides reached the fourth round of the 2017-18 FA Cup on Tuesday, winning their respective replays and joining 10 other top-flight clubs already through to the next round…

[ MORE: Tuesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Friday | Thursday ]

Leicester City 2-0 Fleetwood Town

Kelechi Iheanacho moved to Leicester from Manchester City for $33 million this summer and has, through his first half-season in the East Midlands, failed to live up to that price tag. In nine PL appearances, he is yet to score his first league goal. Tuesday, however, saw the 21-year-old Nigerian international put forth a bit production and performance more befitting a player of his promise and pedigree.

Manager Claude Puel picked a side consisting of first-team regulars and lesser-used squad players for the Foxes FA Cup third-round replay against League One side Fleetwood Town. It was Iheanacho, who started alongside/just behind target man Islam Slimani, who shown brightest with a pair of goals, in the 43rd and 77th minutes, to send Leicester into the fourth round. Iheanacho’s second, the one that put the game away for Leicester, was originally ruled out for offside, but was eventually after consultation of the video-assistant referee.

Leicester will travel to League One side Peterborough in the fourth round, on Sat. Jan. 27.

[ MORE: Newcastle sale talks collapse — Staveley, not Ashley, out ]

West Ham United 1-0 (AET) Shrewsbury Town

It took far longer than Hammers fans would have liked — or expected — but West Ham, over the course of 120 minutes, survived the Cupset bid of third-division Shrewsbury Town. With eight minutes remaining before Tuesday’s replay went to penalty kicks at the London Stadium, 21-year-old defender Reece Burke fired home from inside the box to break the scoreless deadlock.

West Ham will be away to the winner of the replay between Bournemouth and Wigan Athletic (Wednesday), on Sat. Jan. 27.

Elsewhere in FA Cup replay action

Mansfield Town 1-4 Cardiff City
Sheffield Wednesday 2-0 Carlisle United
Reading 3-0 Stevenage

Wednesday’s FA Cup replay schedule

Chelsea vs. Norwich City — 2:45 p.m. ET
Swansea City vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers — 2:45 p.m. ET
Wigan Athletic vs. Bournemouth — 2:45 p.m. ET

Report: Newcastle sale talks between Ashley, Staveley collapse

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Talks between Mike Ashley and Amanda Staveley over the much-desired and -rumored sale of Newcastle United are off, according to a report from Sky Sports and various other UK news outlets.

[ MORE: Tuesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Friday | Thursday ]

Sky has quoted a source close to Ashley as having said: “Attempts to reach a deal (with Staveley) have proved to be exhaustive, frustrating and a complete waste of time.” (Full quote below)

Ashley, the club’s current and long-beleaguered owner, has been seeking a potential buyer since putting the club up for sale back in October. Staveley emerged as the front-runner (the only runner, perhaps) in the days following Ashley’s announcement, and reportedly tabled an offer of $335 million in early December before reportedly offering something closer to $400 million a couple weeks later.

Ashley selling the club — and doing so before the end of the January transfer window, which now appears nigh impossible — appeared to be one the few scenarios in which Rafa Benitez would remain the Magpies’ manager beyond the end of the current Premier League season (Newcastle currently sit 15th, just three points clear of relegation) after constant rumors of his discontent and lack of financial backing last summer.

LIVE, FA Cup replays: West Ham, Leicester on upset alert

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Five FA Cup third round replays take place on Tuesday with two Premier League clubs on upset alert.

[ LIVE: Follow all the FA Cup scores here ]

Leicester City and West Ham United both host third-tier opponents, with the Hammers welcoming Shrewsbury to the London Stadium and Leicester hosting Jamie Vardy‘s former club Fleetwood.

Both Claude Puel and David Moyes have named strong teams to try and breeze through to the fourth round. You can follow commentary on all five games by clicking on the link above and we will have reaction right here on Pro Soccer Talk.

[ MORE: FA Cup fourth round draw in full ]

Below is the full schedule for Tuesday, with all the games kicking off at 2:45 p.m. ET unless otherwise stated.


Tuesday’s FA Cup replay schedule

Leicester City vs. Fleetwood Town
Mansfield Town vs. Cardiff City
Reading vs. Stevenage Town – 3pm
Sheffield Wednesday vs. Carlisle United
West Ham United vs. Shrewsbury