Keita Balde

Photo credit: AS Monaco / @AS_Monaco

Ligue 1: Monaco beat Bordeaux to keep pressure on PSG

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PARIS (AP) In Radamel Falcao‘s absence, his replacement Keita Balde scored for defending champion Monaco to beat Bordeaux 2-0 in the French league on Saturday.

Balde scored in the second half, and midfielder Thomas Lemar added the second with a fine run and shot through goalkeeper Benoit Costil’s legs eight minutes later.

The win kept second-placed Monaco within four points of unbeaten league leader Paris Saint-Germain.

Falcao, the league top scorer with 13, was missing due to muscle fatigue.

Balde had a quiet game but took his first chance well. Brazilian defender Jorge nicked the ball off countryman Malcom in midfield and following his cross from the left wing, midfielder Joao Moutinho expertly headed the ball across the penalty area into Balde’s direction, and he took a touch before slotting it into the bottom of the net.

“It’s a good win with the players we had available,” Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim said. “Keita Balde’s getting better every day. We can use him up front or on the wing. The runs from deep he makes are very important.”

The Senegal forward, who joined in the offseason from Lazio, also scored last weekend when playing alongside Falcao.

“It was a difficult match, but when you get a chance you must take it,” Balde said. “It’s hard when you don’t have a player like Falcao. The main thing is to give the team a helping hand.”

PSG coasted past Nice 3-0 on Friday.

Nantes coach Claudio Ranieri‘s eight-game unbeaten run came to end, losing at Dijon 1-0.

Center forward Julio Tavares scored the winner in the first half, and Nantes missed late chances to equalize.

Ligue 1: Falcao, Balde score to keep Monaco close to PSG

AP Photo/Claude Paris
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PARIS (AP) French champion Monaco got back to winning ways with a 2-0 home win against Caen on Saturday.

Monaco lost three and drew one of its previous four games in all competitions. But coach Leonardo Jardim’s side was largely in control against a Caen side that started brightly and faded after Keita Balde’s opening goal and first for Monaco.

“It was important to win, to get a bit of confidence back,” Jardim said. “We’ve been working hard and the players were very serious today.”

Captain Radamel Falcao scored his league-leading 13th from the penalty spot in the 59th, confidently sending goalkeeper Remy Vercoutre the wrong way.

The win moved second-place Monaco within three points of Paris Saint-Germain, having played one game more. Unbeaten PSG is away at bitter rival Marseille on Sunday.

Falcao’s partnership with teen star Kylian Mbappe was crucial to Monaco’s charge to the league title and the Champions League semifinals last season. Mbappe left to join PSG in a high-profile move — as did several other key players — but Falcao’s new partnership with the unselfish Balde looks a promising one.

“We’ve lost a few players and we need a bit of time, it’s been a bit difficult for us,” Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic said. “I hope we can stay at the top of the table and that the young players can shine. We have a lot of quality here.”

Balde has been sharp in his handful of appearances since joining from Lazio in the offseason, but mainly as a link player and a provider.

This time, the Senegal forward finished off the move as he ran onto Thomas Lemar’s perfectly weighted pass into his path, cut across a defender on the edge of the penalty area and slotted the ball into the bottom left corner.

Lemar almost created another goal when his corner was headed against the crossbar by Brazilian defender Jemerson late in the first half.

Falcao put the game beyond doubt from the spot after Slovenian midfielder Jan Repas fouled attacking midfielder Rony Lopes.


After a tricky start to his tenure at Nantes, Italian coach Claudio Ranieri has turned things around.

Nantes beat Guingamp 2-1 at home to move up to third place, extending Ranieri’s unbeaten run to eight matches after losing the first two.

Nantes, which scored through defender Chidozie Awaziem and midfielder Abdoulaye Toure, is just two points behind Monaco.