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Ligue 1: Cavani, Di Maria score as PSG win to leapfrog Monaco

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PARIS (AP) Striker Edinson Cavani scored his 44th goal of the season and created the second goal as Paris Saint-Germain beat Montpellier 2-0 to go top of the French league on Saturday.

Cavani thumped home a cross from midfielder Blaise Matuidi in the first half, with winger Angel Di Maria involved in the buildup. It took Cavani’s career-best tally to 31 league goals and he thought he had another later in the half, but his powerful header was ruled out for offside.

Three minutes after the break, Cavani back-heeled to Di Maria, who curled in from just outside the penalty area for his fifth goal in five games.

Defending champion PSG is three points ahead of Monaco, which has led for most of the season.

Monaco has played two games less and can return to the top on goal difference by winning at Lyon on Sunday.

Both sides are doing well in Europe.

Monaco reached the Champions League semifinals and Lyon got through to the last four of the Europa League this week.

PSG has won eight straight games in all competitions to keep the pressure on Monaco. They meet each other on Wednesday in the French Cup semifinals. PSG then faces a tough away trip at third-place Nice next weekend as the hard-fought title race heats up.

“Monaco’s had a great season and you have to congratulate them,” PSG left back Maxwell said. “But we’re still in it.”

Bordeaux beat last-place Bastia 2-0 at home to move up to fourth spot, with striker Malcom getting the first goal.

But Lyon needs only a draw at home to Monaco to regain fourth spot.

After struggling for most of the season, Lorient is suddenly playing like a team near the top.

The Brittany-based side moved out of the relegation zone and up to 16th place after thrashing Metz 5-1 at home for a fourth win in five games. Midfielder Jimmy Cabot scored two and striker Benjamin Moukandjo grabbed his 13th goal of the season.

Elsewhere, striker Yacine Bammou scored both as Nantes beat struggling Caen 2-0.

Two goals from center forward Lois Diony helped Dijon beat Angers 3-2 at home; while Nicolas De Preville scored a brace as Lille beat Guingamp 3-0.

In Sunday’s other matches, Nice is away to Toulouse and Saint-Etienne hosts Rennes.

Ligue 1: Falcao scores late winner, preserves Monaco’s 3-point lead

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PARIS (AP) Monaco had Radamel Falcao to thank once again as the Colombia striker came off the bench to score the winner with a superb free kick in a 2-1 home victory against Dijon on Saturday.

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup — Spurs apply pressure to Chelsea (again) ]

Falcao scored an opportunistic winner in a 1-0 defeat of Angers last weekend, and this goal was equally important as it kept Monaco three points clear of Paris Saint-Germain at the top of the French league.

Nabil Dirar scored the first goal midway through the second half, having also set up Falcao’s winner against Angers.

With teenage star Kylian Mbappe enduring a tough evening and Monaco struggling to find space in the first half, 19th-placed Dijon took the lead with a goal from Cedric Varrault shortly before halftime.

Monaco pushed hard after the interval but failed to break Dijon’s solid defense from open play. Falcao first came to the rescue in the 69th minute when the striker hit a free kick from 25 meters (yards) that hit the bar, bounced on `keeper Baptiste Reynet and stopped just in front of the goal line. Dirar rushed toward the ball and hammered it into the back of the net to level.

[ MORE: Sunday’s PL preview — Chelsea visit Mourinho at Old Trafford ]

Falcao, who played 31 minutes, sealed Monaco’s win in the 81st with a sumptuous 20-meter curled strike into the top right corner that left Reynet stranded.

It was Falcao’s 26th goal of a season that has confirmed his return to the highest level and his 18th in 24 league games. Six of those games have been as a substitute since he has occasionally struggled for full fitness.

Falcao warmed up perfectly for the visit of Borussia Dortmund in the return leg of their Champions League quarterfinal on Wednesday, with Monaco leading 3-2 from the away leg in Germany

With five games left to play, Nice is guaranteed a top-three finish in the French league for the first time in more than 40 years.

Chasing its first league crown since 1959, the southern side beat struggling Nancy to ensure its first podium slot since it was runner-up behind Saint-Etienne in 1976.

The only team still unbeaten at home, apart from defending champion Paris Saint-Germain, Nice was caught cold against the run of the play after 26 minutes. It recovered with goals from Mickael Le Bihan and Jean-Michael Seri, who scored a brace.

The win kept Nice within four points of leader Monaco, which has one game in hand.

[ MORE: La Liga roundup — Madrid, Barca win final games before El Clasico ]

Yoan Cardinale made a reflex save in the 25th minute to deny a direct free kick from Loic Puyo which surprised everyone else in the box, but the Nice `keeper was powerless in the next minute after midfielder Valentin Eysseric failed to clear a corner from the left. That allowed Issiar Dia to recover the ball in the area and serve up an assist for Maurice Dale, who scored from six yards (meters).

The goal triggered an all-out assault on the Nancy goal and the hosts managed to level 10 minutes later. After receiving the ball in front of the area, Younes Belhanda almost lost it but managed to deliver a perfect through ball for Le Bihan, who beat `keeper Guy Roland Ndy Assembe for his third goal this season with a precise shot to the bottom corner.

In the absence of injured striker Alassane Plea and with Mario Balotelli suspended, Le Bihan was given his first start of the season and proved to be a worthy addition to the team, with two other good chances in the second half. Le Bihan scored a brace in February after coming off the bench in a 2-1 win against Montpellier on his return from a 17-month injury layoff.

Eysseric almost doubled his team’s lead immediately after the interval when he dribbled on the left side of the box and forced Ndy Assembe into a fine save. Issiar Dia then committed a clumsy foul on Dalbert Henrique in the box and Seri coolly converted from the spot with a shot right in the center of the goal in the 50th minute.

[ MORE: Serie A roundup — Champions-elect, Juventus, go 8 points clear ]

Seri doubled his tally with five minutes left from Eysseric’s clever assist in the back of the defense.

Montpellier made a big step forward in the fight against relegation with goals from Ryad Boudebouz and Isaac Mbenza.

After posting its first home win since February, the 2012 French champions moved to 12th place, eight points above the danger zone.

It was Boudebouz’s 11th goal this season, his best ever tally in the league.

Also Saturday, Guingamp beat Toulouse 2-1; Metz and Caen drew 2-2; and Rennes defeated Lille 2-0.

Ligue 1: Cavani scores 2, sets up 1 as PSG continue chasing Monaco

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PARIS (AP) Edinson Cavani set up Angel Di Maria for the opening goal and then scored twice as Paris Saint-Germain shrugged off a sluggish first-half performance to beat Guingamp 4-0 in the French league on Sunday.

Cavani’s goals have largely carried PSG and the Uruguay striker has an outstanding record of 42 in 41 games this season, including 29 in the league. Midfielder Blaise Matuidi added the fourth goal in injury time.

Defending champion PSG remains three points behind league leader Monaco with seven games left, although the lead is effectively four points because Monaco’s goal difference is +19 better.

Nice is four points behind Monaco, having played one game more than the top two clubs. Nice beat Lille 2-1 on Friday and Monaco won 1-0 at Angers on Saturday, thanks to Radamel Falcao‘s 25th goal of the season.

“We’re holding on to Monaco and Nice aren’t far behind,” Matuidi said. “It’s a great league this season.”

Guingamp was the last team to beat PSG in the league, shortly before Christmas, and was gaining in confidence before carelessly losing possession near the halfway line in the 56th minute.

The ball was pinged quickly to Cavani rampaging down the left, and his fizzing pass across the penalty area rolled into the path of Di Maria, who advanced before lofting the ball over Swedish goalkeeper Karl-Johan Johnsson.

Four minutes later, Guingamp was caught out again near the halfway line and two quick passes sent Cavani into the penalty area. He was tackled but won the loose ball and curled it into the bottom right corner.

His second of the night was even better, as he latched onto a superb cross-field pass from Di Maria and cushioned the ball into his path before driving a low shot into the bottom left corner in the 71st minute.

Although Cavani hit the crossbar with a glancing header in the 18th, and Johnsson saved a shot from Matuidi, mid-table Guingamp looked sharp breaking forward during the first half.

PSG seemed nervous and center half Presnel Kimpembe’s risky pass out from the back landed straight at the feet of forward Jimmy Briand, whose shot flew just over the bar, moments before the break.

Shortly after halftime, Guingamp forward Alexandre Mendy hit the side netting after bursting into the area.

“We weren’t very good in the first half, but we did much better in the second,” Matuidi said on Canal Plus television.

Ultimately, two errors let PSG back in the game, and the individual class of two players costing more than 60 million euros ($64 million) each made the difference.

Marseille lost ground in the chase for a place in next season’s Europa League.

After Toulouse dominated the first half, playmaker Dimitri Payet twice went close to winning the game for Marseille.

With 20 minutes left, Payet’s powerful strike from just inside the penalty area drew a spectacular save from goalkeeper Alban Lafont.

Then, five minutes from time, his free kick from the edge of the area went just over.

Marseille remains in sixth place after a third straight league draw, one point behind fifth-place Bordeaux with six games remaining.

Striker Martin Braithwaite hit the crossbar in the first half for Toulouse, which is in ninth place.

“It’s a fair result,” said Marseille coach Rudi Garcia, whose side has scored once in the last three games. “I’m not worried, but we must start finishing better and improve our attacking play.”

Substitute Benjamin Corgnet rescued a point for Saint-Etienne with a powerful header 20 minutes from time.

Burkina Faso striker Prejuce Nakoulma gave Nantes the lead in the 15th minute, making it five goals in six games since joining in January.

Saint-Etienne is in seventh place, three points behind Marseille and three ahead of eighth-place Nantes.

Report: Alexis Sanchez’s agent in talks with PSG

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According to a report from French outlet RMC, Alexis Sanchez’s agent is in talks with Paris Saint-Germain.

[ MORE: Mane’s season over? ]

The Arsenal striker, 28, has 15 months left on his current deal with the Gunners but with Arsene Wenger‘s future still uncertain and a top four finish looking increasingly unlikely (so, no UEFA Champions League action next season for Arsenal) it seems like the Chilean superstar is already thinking about his next step.

According to the French outlet Sanchez’s agent has met with representatives of PSG “several times” about a move to Ligue 1 for his client, plus they claim Chelsea are also in the hunt for his signature.

Sanchez has spent the past three seasons in the Premier League with Arsenal, winning one FA Cup and scoring 64 goals in 133 appearances in all competitions — including 18 goals and nine assists in the PL this season — since arriving from Barcelona in a $39.5 million transfer in the summer of 2013.

However this season speculation about his future has continued and a training ground bust-up, plus angry reactions to his teammates celebrating a draw at Bournemouth and when substituted by Wenger, have shown cracks are appearing.

Sanchez is a born winner and during the recent international break he was quoted by Chilean media as saying he loves to live in London but wants to play for a team that wins.

Many geniuses out there have put two and two together to state that Sanchez wants a move across London to Chelsea, but it is unlikely that Arsenal will want to sell their star man to a direct Premier League rival.

That’s what makes this PSG report a little more believable because if Arsenal do have to reluctantly sell Sanchez this summer (they can’t risk losing him for nothing if he doesn’t sign a new deal at the end of the season when contract talks will happen) they’d much rather he moved to Italy, Spain or France.

Also, PSG can certainly afford his wage demands which are said to be in-excess of $360,000 per week, over double what he is currently paid by Arsenal.

Sanchez, understandably for a player of his talent, wants one final payday in his career and if Arsenal can’t provide that then PSG certainly can with Les Parisiens eager to replace the lost goals of Zlatan Ibrahimovic to fire them to glory in the UEFA Champions League.

International Champions Cup: El Clasico, Manchester Derby headed for U.S.

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The Manchester Derby is officially headed for the United States, one of several massive-named matches in the 2017 International Champions Cup this summer.

The Mancunian foes will square off at a to be announced location on July 20, with United then facing both Real Madrid (Santa Clara) and Barcelona (Landover). United previously announced that it would play in Santa Clara, Salt Lake, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and a fifth location.

[ MORE: Cameron pumped for USMNT return ]

Man City is scheduled to play in L.A. on July 26, and United will be in Santa Clara on July 23, but don’t pencil Salt Lake City in yet. It’s likely organizers will want to put the game in the biggest venue it can, so maybe City doubles up at the Coliseum? Could Seattle be in the cards?

A Stateside El Clasico had already been reported as set for July 29, and that is confirmed by the ICC release.

Also heading to the U.S.? Roma, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, and Tottenham Hotspur.

Wednesday, July 19 — Roma vs. PSG
Thursday, July 20 — Manchester United vs. Man City
Saturday, July 22 — Juventus vs. Barcelona at MetLife Stadium (NJ)
Saturday, July 22 — PSG vs. Spurs at Camping World Stadium (Orlando)
Sunday, July 23 — Real Madrid vs. Manchester United at Levi’s Stadium (Santa Clara)
Tuesday, July 25 — Spurs vs. Roma at Red Bull Arena
Wednesday, July 26 — Barcelona vs. Manchester United at FedEx Field (Maryland)
Wednesday, July 26 — PSG vs. Juventus at Hard Rock Stadium (Miami)
Wednesday, July 26 — Man City vs. Real Madrid at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Saturday, July 29 — Man City vs. Spurs at Nissan Stadium (Nashville)
Sunday, July 29 — Real Madrid vs. Barcelona at Hard Rock Stadium (Miami)
Sunday, July 30 — Roma vs. Juventus at Gillette Stadium (Boston)