Ligue 1

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

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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.

Ligue 1 roundup: PSG grab late win to open early 6-point lead

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PARIS (AP) On a frustrating day for the world’s two most expensive players, and with the club’s top scorer rested, it was unheralded defender Thomas Meunier who got Paris Saint-Germain’s goals in a 2-1 win at Dijon on Saturday.

Neymar and Kylian Mbappe cost PSG a combined $478 million when they joined in the offseason. They had an off day, although Mbappe made some amends by setting up Meunier’s winner in the second minute of injury time.

It was the attack-minded right back’s fourth goal in four games, including one for Belgium last weekend in a World Cup qualifier.

“I always try and follow things up, that’s my style,” Meunier said. “I love bringing something to the attack.”

The win moved French league leader PSG six points clear of defending champion Monaco, which lost at Lyon 3-2 on Friday.

PSG was without Edinson Cavani — left out after playing for Uruguay in World Cup qualifying this week — but carved out enough chances to win easily.

PSG was coasting to victory until the 87th minute, when Dijon launched a hopeful ball up the field, forcing PSG center half Marquinhos to hack clear. The looping ball fell to forward Benjamin Jeannot some 35 yards out and he hit a tremendous left-footed volley over the head of goalkeeper Alphonse Areola.

Then Mbappe’s cross fell to Meunier on the edge of the area, and his low shot squeezed through the legs of defender Oussama Haddadi and over the line.

“We fought hard the whole game and showed that we could stand up to PSG,” Dijon goalkeeper Baptiste Reynet said. “We got back into the game in an incredible way, so it’s a pity to concede that goal the way we did. We lost a bit of concentration.”

Dijon played with a high energy and harried PSG all over the pitch, forcing mistakes.

PSG’s frustration showed when Neymar was shown a yellow card for a cheap foul on Dijon defender Cedric Varrault.

Reynet made a stunning reflex save to push away Mbappe’s low volley and saved again moments later from Neymar’s strike, but could not recover in time to stop Meunier’s low shot slipping under his body in the 70th.

Saint-Etienne scored three late goals to beat Metz 3-1 and move up to third place, while Caen dropped down to eighth spot after losing 2-0 at home to Angers.

Guingamp moved up to ninth with a 2-0 home win over Rennes, but Lille’s struggles continued as it conceded an injury-time goal in a 2-2 home draw with Troyes.

Striker Andy Delort’s first-half goal sealed mid-table Toulouse a 1-0 home win against Amiens.


PARIS (AP) Montpellier continued its habit of troubling the leading teams by beating Nice 2-0 in the French league on Sunday.

Montpellier is unbeaten so far against the top three from last season. It has drawn against defending champion Monaco and runner-up Paris Saint-Germain and comfortably beaten Nice in successive games.

Benin attacking midfielder Stephane Sessegnon and Belgium forward Isaac Mbenza scored in the second half with their first goals of the campaign.

Sessegnon was once considered among the biggest talents in the French league when he joined Paris Saint-Germain in 2008, but his career never really took off despite several years in the English Premier League with Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion.

The 33-year-old Sessegnon showed a glimpse of his ability, however, with a ferocious strike from 25 meters (yards) that flew into the top right corner in the 55th minute.

The win moved Montpellier up to mid-table, while Nice drops down to a miserable 14th place after its fifth defeat so far.

Nice offered little threat, with Mario Balotelli well contained by the home defense. When the former Inter Milan and Manchester City striker did get a chance in the first half, he was thwarted by goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte’s sprawling save.

Nantes is resolute, well organized, opportunist and tough to beat under coach Claudio Ranieri.

Sound familiar? So was unheralded Leicester when Ranieri guided it to the Premier League title in 2015-16 in one of the greatest upsets in soccer history.

Ranieri has little hope of winning the French title this season, however, faced with the attacking power of Paris Saint-Germain.

After losing the first two league games, Ranieri’s side is unbeaten in seven and sits comfortably in fourth place following Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Bordeaux.

PSG forced to make do without five regulars against Dijon

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Paris Saint-Germain has faced little competition thus far in 2017/18 during Ligue 1 play, but perhaps their own injuries could be their first domestic downfall.

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The French giants will be without five key players for Saturday’s trip to Dijon, including Marco Verratti, Edinson Cavani and Thiago Motta, says manager Unai Emery.

Additionally, Layvin Kurzawa and Thiago Silva will also have their presence missed for the away fixture, but Emery expects all five players to be available for Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League match against Anderlecht.

On the positive side, Angel di Maria, Javier Pastore and Thomas Meunier have returned to fitness ahead of the weekend, making their availability likely.

Vieira was up for Saint-Etienne gig, happy at NYCFC for now

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Patrick Vieira’s playing days reputation as a field general already gives him a leg up on a lot of competition for managerial jobs, so it’s no surprise that his success at New York City FC has moved his name even higher up the queue when a job becomes available.

Vieira admitted that Saint Etienne came calling this offseason before settling on former Watford and Maccabi Tel Aviv boss Oscar Garcia, but that the move was not at the right time for him.

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The ex-Arsenal midfielder said he’s too busy enjoying his project at NYCFC, though he did admit, that he’ll be prepared for the next step once the right opportunity presents itself. From RMC:

“I have gained a lot of experience during my two seasons in New York,” said Vieira, who denied any contact with his former Arsenal club, “I feel ready to face the challenges. have a group that allows me to flourish, I have no reason to go elsewhere. “

The 41-year-old has won 43 percent of his matches at NYCFC, neither a small feat in the league or at a club that had struggled to debut under Jason Kreis. He’ll end up somewhere else sooner rather than later, and perhaps his ambitions could lead him elsewhere if his goals are achieved with NYCFC in this season’s MLS Cup Playoffs.

Vieira has won league titles with Arsenal, Juventus, and Inter Milan as a player, and a managerial title in a league with relative parity would certainly shoot his star upward.

Lille steward says barrier at Amiens stadium was faulty

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PARIS (AP) A steward from Lille said he had warned Amiens officials that the barrier which collapsed during a French league match between the two northern clubs was faulty.

In an interview with L’Equipe newspaper published Monday, Jean-Claude Buisine said the visitors’ stand at the Stade de la Licorne in Amiens did not have enough capacity for the 550 away fans, and that the barrier was defective.

Buisine, who sustained minor back injuries in the accident, said he and his colleagues had warned Amiens officials before the game that the barrier was badly attached and that it was moving.

“It’s a disgrace to confine people in a thing like that,” Buisine said about the stand. “It’s a case of gross security negligence. This stadium is very, very dangerous.”

The hospital in Amiens said 29 people were injured in the collapse.

The French league said its disciplinary committee would be starting an inquiry on Thursday. If Amiens is found responsible, it faces a number of possible sanctions: a fine, playing a match with either part or all of its stadium closed, or even a point penalty.

The Amiens prosecutor has already opened an investigation to determine the causes of the accident.

The match between Amiens and Lille was stopped Saturday after the opening goal in the 15th minute. Fode Ballo-Toure had just scored for Lille when he ran over to a section of visiting fans behind the goal to celebrate. As fans surged forward, the fence collapsed under their weight. Fans tumbled onto the field and the match was immediately halted.