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Henry’s Monaco earns second win ahead of meeting with Vieira

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PARIS — Colombia striker Radamel Falcao scored two penalties in a 2-0 away win at Amiens on Tuesday to give Monaco coach Thierry Henry his second victory in 10 games since taking over at the French league club in mid-October.

The win lifted Monaco out of the relegation zone and dropped Amiens into 19th place. Both teams have 13 points but Monaco has the better goal difference.

[ MORE: Who will Berhalter call up? ]

Also Tuesday, Nice and Angers played out a 0-0 draw. The sixth successive clean sheet for coach Patrick Vieira’s Nice set a single-season record for the club in the league. But scoring is a problem: Nice was also scoreless in a 0-0 draw with Guingamp last weekend and remains in seventh place with 25 points.

Angers has 18 points, in 12th place.

Former Arsenal teammates Vieira and Henry go head-to-head for the first time as coaches in the league when Nice travels to Monaco on Friday.

In Tuesday’s late game, Lille beat Montpellier 1-0, dislodging the southern club from second spot behind runaway league leader Paris Saint-Germain.

Nicolas Pepe fired home the winner in the sixth minute, the Lille forward’s 10th league goal in 16 games this season.

Lille is now second on 30 points, with Montpellier slipping to third, still on 29.

PSG has 43 points.

Nice weekend for Vieira’s Nice, Henry’s Monaco

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PSG is running away with Ligue 1, but MLS and Arsenal fans have had a couple of reasons to follow the French top flight this season.

Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira are in their first European managerial adventures, and both have had good weekends.

[ MORE: Arsenal tops Bournemouth ]

That’s been a rarity in the case of Henry, who took over a shockingly under-performing AS Monaco and oversaw just two draws in his first six matches.

On Saturday at Caen, a Radamel Falcao free kick was enough to get Henry that first win. Monaco is now two points back of safety, in 19th place.

Vieira’s run with Nice started slow but has picked up serious steam, and his men are within four points back of second place Lyon.

Nice got goals from Wylan Cyprien and Allan Saint-Maximin in a 2-0 win over Lille, stretching the club’s winning run to five matches. Four of those matches have come in the league, and all are clean sheets.

Both Henry and Vieira have been unafraid to speak their minds, with the latter calling out Mario Balotelli a couple of weeks ago.

Their sides meet Dec. 7 in Monaco.

PSG has a 15-point lead on second, and is 14-0-0 on the season. They have that going for them, which is nice.

PSG rampant without Neymar; Henry’s miserable debut

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PARIS (AP) Neymar was not missed as runaway French leader Paris Saint-Germain crushed Amiens 5-0 on Saturday for a 10th straight league win.

Neymar was given a few days off by coach Thomas Tuchel after playing for Brazil in the international break. PSG faces Napoli in the Champions League on Wednesday and is then away to bitter rival Marseille on Sunday.

Except for Neymar, PSG’s lineup was near full-strength and the defending champion easily extended the best start to the league. PSG is averaging nearly four goals per game, but should have scored even more at home. Some sloppy finishing will not have impressed Tuchel, who is trying to instill more intensity into the side.

“It wasn’t a great performance,” the demanding Tuchel said. “But we were serious and worked hard for each other.”

Winger Angel Di Maria set up the first two goals with superb delivery from corners, taken from the right and curled with his left foot. It should have been 3-0 moments later, but striker Edinson Cavani somehow shot wide when he had an open goal.

Germany winger Julian Draxler got the third, and a minute later France World Cup star Kylian Mbappe curled a shot through the legs of a defender for his ninth league goal. Moussa Diaby skillfully slotted home the fifth.

Thierry Henry’s coaching debut was miserable as Monaco lost at Strasbourg 2-1, finished with 10 men, lost top scorer Radamel Falcao to injury, and slipped to 19th place.

Henry, the all-time leading scorer for France and Arsenal, got an ovation from the Strasbourg fans when he walked out.

But his ambitions were undermined without his best two goalkeepers who were injured, and two defenders who were suspended. No. 3 goalkeeper Seydou Sy clumsily fumbled a header from midfielder Adrien Thomasson to gift Strasbourg the lead after 17 minutes.

Falcao limped off with what looked like a left-thigh injury in the 36th. Henry took a risk selecting Falcao, considering he played late Wednesday night for Colombia.

Henry then lost another forward, this time to a red card, when Samuel Grandsir was sent off midway through the second half.

Strasbourg made the most of it when South Africa striker Lebo Mothiba was released and confidently dinked the ball over Sy.

Midfielder Youri Tielemans’ injury-time penalty for Monaco was too late.

Second-place Lille remained eight points behind PSG after winning at Dijon 2-1.

Striker Nicolas Pepe scored a penalty and helped set up Brazilian forward Luiz Araujo just before halftime.

Emiliano Sala grabbed a hat trick as Nantes beat Toulouse 4-0 at home to move above Monaco into 18th place.

Last-place Guingamp drew at Caen 0-0, and Reims was held by Angers to 1-1.

Marseille, Montpellier, Saint-Etienne and Bordeaux play on Sunday and all have a chance to overtake Lyon in third place.

Marseille travels to play Nice; Saint-Etienne faces Rennes, and Montpellier hosts Bordeaux.

How tough is the task ahead of Henry’s Monaco debut?

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PARIS (AP) Thierry Henry’s managerial career could hardly be starting under more challenging circumstances, with struggling Monaco leaking goals, hit by injuries and low on confidence.

[ MORE: Top Premier League storylines for Week 9

The French great, who started his glittering playing career at Monaco, takes over a side sitting 18th in the top flight.

Monaco has won just once in 11 games – including two defeats in the Champions League – and the poor run cost Leonardo Jardim his job .

“The reality is morale isn’t at its highest,” Henry said ahead of the trip to Strasbourg on Saturday.

Strasbourg is ninth and the Alsace-based side is hard to beat at home.

Henry will be without No. 1 goalkeeper Danijel Subasic and No. 2 Diego Benaglio – who are nursing thigh injuries and sat out Thursday’s training session.

Monaco also has two defenders suspended — Jemerson and Andrea Raggi — and another out injured, while Henry must decide whether to select veteran striker Radamel Falcao, who is returning late after playing for Colombia on Wednesday night.

Jardim often rested Falcao after internationals, but Henry may have no choice but to pick his leading scorer.

[ VIDEO: Wayne Rooney swerves long free kick around the wall ]

Monaco won the domestic title and reached the Champions League semifinals in 2017, scoring more than 150 goals. However, the side Henry has inherited is a far cry from that swashbuckling team.

The 41-year-old Henry helped France win the 1998 World Cup and the 2000 European Championship. He is the leading goal-scorer for his country and for Premier League Arsenal, and thrilled fans with his speed and skill.

He exudes confidence but, given Monaco’s precarious situation, he has little time to talk about his vision for the club.

“I prefer to think only of the present. What the team needs right now might not be what the team needs in two or three months. When things are calmer perhaps we can talk about those things,” Henry said.

“It’s not going to be easy to get the team to understand how I want to play. It’s always better to have the team at the start of the season, so they know the ideas.”

Henry was previously Belgium’s No. 2. During the 2018 World Cup in Russia, he was praised by coach Roberto Martinez for his work helping fine-tune the squad’s fleet of forwards.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Sargent moved to Werder Bremen first team ]

His focus now is to shore up a Monaco defense which has leaked 13 goals in nine league games.

“We must become a team which doesn’t let in goals,” Henry said. “What the team needs now is security and balance.”

Because it’s his first job in charge, Henry will be relying on his backroom staff more than other coaches might.

“It’s important to have staff members who can say ‘no’ to you, challenge you on certain points, and perhaps have a different vision of things,” he said. “The most important thing is not having people around me who just say ‘yes, yes.'”

Monaco has a huge scouting network and a reputation for developing players before selling them on for massive profits. The best example is 19-year-old France forward Kylian Mbappe, who shone in 2017 before joining Paris Saint-Germain in a deal worth $207 million.

[ MORE: Higuain “rejuvenated” by Gattuso after Juve “kicked me out” ]

Henry knows how it feels to be a young star. He made his Monaco debut at the age of 17 in 1994 and four years later he was a World Cup winner — just like Mbappe is now .

“We live in a (different) generation,” Henry said. “When I grew up, you needed to make the first step to the senior players, the first step to the coach. Now, you have to go to the new generation, understand their codes. The way they (arrive) sometimes to training, the way they walk, the little lean they have … my coach would have sent me straight back to the dressing room (for that).

“Sometimes you have to laugh, sometimes you have to be hard and sometimes you have to let them be. The trick is when. If you stay stuck on the way you grew up, then there will be a fracture, that’s for sure. You have to adapt and be patient.”

USMNT can do little to slow down prolific Colombia

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A young, hilariously overmatched U.S. men’s national team put forth a mostly encouraging performance against a star-studded Colombia side en route to a 4-2 defeat in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday.

[ WATCH: James gives Colombia lead over USMNT with beauty ]

Dave Sarachan’s record in 12 months as interim head coach now stands at 3W-3D-3L.

Colombia threatened early and often, from the opening five minutes onward, when Antonee Robinson and John Brooks were beaten by Santiago Arias on the edge of the USMNT’s penalty area. Arias glided past the left-sided duo and delivered a delightful cross to Radamel Falcao near the penalty spot. Fortunately for goalkeeper Zack Steffen, Falcao fired over the crossbar and the Yanks were off the hook.

The pressure finally paid off in the 36th minute (WATCH HERE). Rodriguez curled the ball from a seemingly impossible distance outside of Steffen’s right-hand post and nestled it into the upper-90 from the opposite side of the penalty area. It was a goal that reminded us of the world class talent Colombia possessed.

For all of Colombia’s dominance and control exuded in the first half, Los Cafeteros failed to make the USMNT pay with a second goal — for a time. Five minutes into the second half, they paid the price themselves.

Antonee Robinson had all day down the left flank before floating a lofted ball into the box, where Davinson Sanchez got the slightest of touches with his head, but nowhere near enough to send it clear of danger. Acosta read the flight of the ball the entire way and arrived to the six-yard box with split-second timing to make it a 1-1 game.

[ UEFA Nations League: Portugal win again without Ronaldo ]

They paid again three minutes later, when Wood split two defenders to get on the end of Tim Weah’s deftly played, inch-perfect through ball to the penalty spot. Wood needed — had time for — just one touch to hit it hard and low past Ospina inside his left-hand post. 2-1 to the USMNT.

The lead was extraordinarily short-lived, though. Arias got to the end line and cut the ball back toward the penalty spot for Carlos Bacca. With every defender’s momentum taking them toward the end line, Bacca peeled away from every blue shirt and had plenty of time and space to send his first-time shot past the outstretched hands of Steffen to make it 2-2.

The draw was beginning to look attainable — perhaps likely, even — until Colombia struck with a lethal counter-attack directly resulting from a USMNT set piece. Brooks was the USMNT player farthest up the field when Rodriguez booted the ball out of his own penalty area, springing Juan Quintero one-on-one in the open field. Falcao made the hard run through the center of the field to get into the box. No one went with him, and the finish was simple as could be for a player of his caliber.

As if Rodriguez’s opening goal didn’t provide enough of the wow factor for an overwhelmingly pro-Colombia crowd, Bayern Munich’s somewhat maligned superstar set up Miguel Borja for another moment of absolute class in the 79th minute. A simple chipped ball over the top provided a stage for Borja’s acrobatic finish to complete the scoring and the rout.