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Ligue 1: Monaco’s Jardim demands final push to win title this week

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PARIS (AP) In his ruthlessly pragmatic way, Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim demands one final effort from his players.

Even though the hard work has been done – Monaco is within touching distance of raising the French league trophy after routing Lille 4-0 on Sunday night – Jardim does not want his players easing off for a split second.

Monaco’s win kept it three points ahead of Paris Saint-Germain, with a vastly superior goal difference and a game in hand.

Defending champion PSG kept its razor-thin hopes alive with a 5-0 win away to Saint-Etienne – but needs to win its final game against Caen by a huge margin and hope Monaco gets thrashed in its last two matches to stand any chance.

Monaco can seal a first title since 2000 and an eighth overall on Wednesday night just by drawing against lackluster Saint-Etienne at home.

“We ask our fans to come on Wednesday to support the players. We need to get the point we need and not wait until the last day,” Jardim said. “I respect football too much. I’m not here for a laugh – I’m asking my players for one last effort.”

Message received, loud and clear.

“As long as we don’t have the trophy in our hands we can’t celebrate,” Monaco forward Valere Germain said.

PSG coach Unai Emery pretty much conceded the title.

“Even though it’s not mathematically certain, Monaco should be champion. Congratulations,” he said. “We improved in the second half of the season, but it wasn’t enough given the great job Monaco did.”

Monaco has netted 153 goals in all competitions, boasts a goal difference + 17 better than PSG’s in the league, and needs only one more goal to surpass PSG’s league tally of 102 from last year.

Radamel Falcao scored twice on Sunday, with attacking midfielder Bernardo Silva and a late own goal securing another emphatic win.

Striker Edinson Cavani got two for PSG to reach 35 league goals, while Brazilian winger Lucas also netted twice and Germany winger Julian Draxler completed the scoring.

It was a sad farewell to fans for Saint-Etienne coach Christophe Galtier, taking charge of his 359th game and his last one at home before leaving at the end of the season.

Over at Stade Louis II, Falcao headed in Thomas Lemar’s cross from the left in the sixth minute to reach 20 league goals for the fourth time in his career. Last season, he got just one for Premier League Chelsea.

The second goal came on the stroke of halftime.

Teen forward Kylian Mbappe showed tremendous pace to surge past defender Franck Beria and then return a pass for Silva to thump home. Normally such a reserved character, Jardim jumped off the bench and pumped his fist vigorously as he shuffled along the touchline.

The 18-year-old Mbappe turned provider again midway through the second half with a wonderful cushioned pass that Falcao volleyed home for his 30th goal in all competitions.

“We have a great collective strength,” Monaco left back Benjamin Mendy said “You can only enjoy yourself when you’re in this team.”

Video: De Rossi, Roma make classy visit to Hillsborough memorial

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On many occasions there are instances where teams and individuals exemplify the fact that real-life occurrences are more meaningful than sports.

Ahead of Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League meeting, Italian giants AS Roma visited Anfield –where they will face Liverpool in the competition’s semifinals.

After walking around the venue where the two sides will compete in less than 24 hours, Roma captain Daniele de Rossi and the rest of the Roma squad visited the Hillsborough memorial at Anfield to pay tribute to the 96 victims lost in the 1989 event that rocked the entire country.

De Rossi was seen laying a floral arrangement on the site, along with a note from the club that read, “In memoria delle vittime di Hillsborough AS Rome.”

Liverpool, Roma ride major emotions into the UCL semifinals

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Four clubs remain in this season’s UEFA Champions League competition, and while two of the teams have been considered heavy dogs in the fight all year long the other two sides look to continue on their storybook run.

Liverpool, Roma, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid have found themselves in the semifinals of this season’s UCL, creating a strong mix of storylines as the tournament heads towards its most critical point.

[ MORE: Everton gets past Newcastle behind Theo Walcott’s strike ]

Anfield will be the site for Tuesday’s first leg between Liverpool and Roma, with both sides still riding major highs from their victories in the last round.

The Reds enter the final four after having disposed of fellow Premier League side Manchester City in relatively dominating fashion. Meanwhile, Roma completed a seemingly impossible comeback against Barcelona to progress in the competition.

Liverpool is led by three of the year’s top goalscorers, including Mohamed Salah — who has scored eight goals in the UCL and 41 across all competitions.

For Roma, much of the side’s success has been predicated on finding defensive strength at the right moments throughout the tournament.

Despite falling behind 4-1 in their first leg defeat to Barca in the previous round, Edin Dzeko and Co. rallied for a 3-0 win at the Stade Olimpico to stun the Catalan club by holding Lionel Messi and his side in check.

Manager Eusebio Di Francesco will have to find creative ways to halt the Liverpool attack though over the course of two legs, with the Reds boasting the top attack in this year’s UCL.

Liverpool has scored 33 goals in 10 UCL matches, while only conceding seven in the process.

Keeper Ederson hopeful he can score this season for Man City

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The prospects for a goalkeeper scoring during a match are usually uncommon, but that hasn’t halted Manchester City’s number one choice from aiming to break the trend this season.

Ederson — who has moved into the starting role at the Etihad Stadium with relative ease in 2017/18 — has dreamt of scoring a goal of his own for the Premier League champions in waiting.

“I heard the fans chanting my name, asking me to take the penalty but Gabriel went there,” Ederson said. “Unfortunately he missed it and Bernardo happily scored. But if the manager have asked me to go there, definitely I’d score.

“I’m not sure if I would be able to do set-pieces, but I’m good at penalties, either using power or technique on shooting it. But City have [their] regular penalty-takers and we are well-served.

Citizen supporters chanted for the goalkeeper to take a penalty kick over the weekend in the team’s 5-0 win over Swansea City.

However, Gabriel Jesus was the man selected for the opportunity, but had his attempt saved by Lukasz Fabianski before Bernardo Silva was in the right spot to score the game’s fifth goal.

“If Pep asks me to take it, I’m there,” Ederson said of the penalty kick. “Hopefully it will happen [before the end of the season], I’d like to score.”

This isn’t the first time Ederson has discussed exploring opportunities outside of the net, though.

The Brazilian shot-stopper has long been a fan of former Brazil international goalkeeper Rogero Ceni — who scored 65 goals for club side Sao Paolo.

Earlier this season, the 24-year-old joked around with the media, saying that he’d be more than happy to fill a role in the midfield when City was experiencing some injury issues within the squad.

Everton 1-0 Newcastle: Walcott blast has Toffees up to eighth

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Everton earned a 1-0 win against Newcastle on Monday behind Theo Walcott‘s second-half strike at Goodison Park.

The victory puts the Toffees into eighth place, leaping over Leicester City for the time being — as the Foxes have an extra game in hand.

[ MORE: Sweden coach says Ibra must reach out to have shot at World Cup ]

The former Arsenal man broke the deadlock six minutes into the second half when Walcott blasted the ball into the roof of the net following a lofted cross from Yannick Bolasie.

For Walcott, it’s his third goal since joining Everton in 2017/18 from the Gunners.

The visitors had their fair share of opportunities on the day, particularly through Ayoze Pérez, who was active all throughout the match.

Perez nearly broke the deadlock after the half hour mark when he tested goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in the 31st minute with a diving save in the bottom left corner.

Phil Jagielka came close four minutes later when his close-range attempt narrowly missed the top left corner after Michael Keane‘s flicked header off a corner kick.

The Spanish forward was at it again in the second stanza, and nearly found the back of the net when his header was saved in the center of the goal off of a cross from Kenedy.

Newcastle pushed hard for an equalizer in the dying moments, and even played up a man for a few minutes when Leighton Baines was tended to for a head injury, but the Magpies couldn’t even the score.