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Ligue 1: Mbappe scores two more for PSG before Man Utd visit

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CAEN, France (AP) Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe rescued a 2-1 win at Caen for the runaway French league leader to avoid embarrassment on Saturday before Manchester United’s Champions League visit.

Mbappe scored twice for the second league match in succession to take his tally to 24 goals in 21 games in the competition, his 87th-minute winner helping PSG open a 20-point lead over Lille.

Thomas Tuchel’s side can now turn attention to United’s trip on Wednesday, when the French team will defend a 2-0 lead from the first leg of the last-16 tie.

Mbappe has scored in all five domestic league games since PSG lost forwards Neymar and Edinson Cavani to injury, and the 20-year-old’s second-half double in Caen took him to 53 goals in the league since bursting on the scene with Monaco three years ago.

He was already the youngest player to reach 50 league goals in French league history.

But PSG was given a fright by plucky Caen, which is fighting relegation. The visitors were shocked when Casimir Ninga fired the home side ahead early in the second half.

The goal frames had seen plenty of action in the first half. PSG defender Layvin Kurzawa set the tone when he struck the crossbar in the third minute and Enzo Crivelli was similarly denied at the other end.

Marquinhos then struck the crossbar again for PSG, and Angel Di Maria’s effort was deflected by Caen keeper Brice Samba onto the post.

Ninga scored in the 56th minute when he took Faycal Fajr’s free kick on his thigh before dispatching the ball past Alphonse Areola and inside the far post with his next touch.

The lead only lasted three minutes, Mbappe equalizing with a penalty.

Di Maria had the next chance, again striking the post, before Mbappe came to the visitors’ rescue when he stabbed home the rebound after Samba parried Thomas Meunier’s initial effort.

Both the late games finished 2-2. Radamel Falcao scored twice in the second half, one a penalty, as Monaco drew at Angers to stay unbeaten since Leonardo Jardim returned to take charge, while Amiens drew at Reims.

Pressure increases on Thierry Henry as Monaco loses again

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PARIS (AP) Thierry Henry’s first managerial stint took another turn for the worse on Tuesday as his Monaco side lost 3-1 at home to second-division Metz in the French Cup.

This latest defeat follows a 5-1 loss at home to Strasbourg in the French league on Saturday, a result which has the 2017 French champion languishing in 19th place.

[READ: Dele Alli out until March]

We have a real problem at the Stade Louis-II,” Henry said after the game, via L’equipe. “I do not know why, I have trouble grasping. We needed to tell each other truths after the match in the locker room. We must be united. I take everything for myself, the lack of aggressiveness, the fact of not being good at Louis II, the tactical errors. We lacked today to be decisive in the opposing end. It will be necessary to be united, to fight, to go forward and to be aggressive. I do not know if the guys realize what’s going on. I can not be in their heads. We are in a critical situation and we are here to try to save ourselves.”

Henry recalled Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic following a long spell out of the side, and only one appearance for Monaco since reaching the World Cup final. But surprisingly, even though Henry said winning this match was a priority for the club, he left key signing Cesc Fabregas on the bench.

When he brought the former Chelsea midfielder on after 69 minutes, second-division leader Metz was already 2-1 up at Stade Louis II.

Monaco had equalized through top scorer Radamel Falcao, but its chronic weakness in defense was again exposed as Metz comfortably reached the last 16 of the competition.

Henry’s immediate task is to win points to help the club escape relegation – starting with Saturday’s key game at Dijon, which is two points above Monaco in 18th spot.

In other French Cup games on Tuesday, first-division sides Guingamp, Lille and Toulouse advanced.

Cup holder Paris Saint-Germain hosts Strasbourg in Wednesday’s matches.

Henry’s Monaco draws 1-1 with Vieira’s Nice in French league

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PARIS (AP) Old friends Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira had to split the points as Monaco drew 1-1 with French Riviera rival Nice on Wednesday in a scrappy match featuring three video reviews.

Winger Allan Saint-Maximin put Nice ahead in the 30th minute and 17-year-old defender Benoit Badiashile equalized shortly after halftime, becoming the youngest scorer in the French top flight this season. Badiashile’s header from a corner was deemed to have crossed the line by the use of goal-line technology.

[MORE: Ligue 1 scores, schedule]

Henry and Vieira are in their first seasons coaching in France, but they go way back and hugged warmly before kickoff.

Living next to each other in London, they blossomed with Arsenal and were part of the famed “Invincibles” side which went a whole season unbeaten in the Premier League. The Frenchmen also won the 1998 World Cup and the European Championship in 2000, as well as playing together in the 2006 World Cup final.

Having started their illustrious careers as teenagers on the French Riviera – Henry with Monaco and Vieira with Cannes – they have come full circle as coaches.

Monaco had chances through Aleksandr Golovin and Rony Lopes, only for Nice to strike against the run of play following a sloppy mistake from Youssef Ait Bennasser. After he gave the ball away in midfield, Saint-Maximin took it off him easily and shrugged off defender Jemerson before shooting confidently past goalkeeper Diego Benaglio.

The goal was awarded before being checked and confirmed by referee Benoit Bastien using VAR. Moments before the interval, he consulted VAR again to send off Nice striker Ihsan Sacko for a late challenge on defender Benjamin Heinrichs.

“There’s a lot of frustration and questions about the decisions. The red card is very harsh,” Vieira said. “It wasn’t a dangerous action and it had a negative impact on us.”

Bastien used VAR for the third time to award a penalty in the 75th, ruling that Badiashile impeded right back Youcef Atal when images suggested Atal initiated contact with Badiashile before tumbling down.

Benaglio guessed correctly to keep out Saint-Maximim’s spot kick. Monaco almost won it near the end when Radamel Falcao hit the post with a curling effort.

“A point isn’t enough for us, but we could have been sat here talking about a defeat,” Henry said. “I have no opinion about the VAR, those are their decisions. Diego saved the penalty – so much the better for us.”

Monaco has not won at home this season and is 19th – only one point ahead of last-place Guingamp, which beat Rennes 2-1 at home.

OTHER MATCHES

VAR also played a key role elsewhere as Saint-Etienne equalized with a penalty in a 2-1 home win against Marseille.

Referee Antony Gautier awarded the penalty in the 56th after goalkeeper Steve Mandanda upended forward Wahbi Khazri.

Gautier then changed his mind after the linesman signaled Khazri was offside when receiving the pass, but further confusion ensued as he then consulted VAR and re-awarded the penalty, which was confidently tucked away by Khazri.

There was no debating Khazri’s late winner, struck ferociously from 20 meters past Mandanda. It was his 12th league goal of the season and leapfrogged Saint-Etienne over Lyon into third place ahead of their local derby on Sunday.

Netherlands midfielder Kevin Strootman headed Marseille ahead early on from Florian Thauvin‘s excellent cross. The defeat increases the pressure on ninth-place Marseille and its coach Rudi Garcia after a string of poor performances have left fans disgruntled and angry.

In other matches, forwards Moussa Dembele and Nabil Fekir netted late on as Lyon rallied to draw 2-2 at Toulouse.

Nimes moved into 11th spot after winning 1-0 at home to Nantes.

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.