Wahbi Khazri

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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.

Ligue 1: Mbappe’s winner for PSG; Monaco still struggling

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PARIS (AP) Two days after celebrating his 20th birthday, Kylian Mbappe grabbed Paris Saint-Germain’s winner against Nantes in a scrappy 1-0 home result on Saturday.

With PSG heading toward a third straight French league draw, Mbappe slid in at the back post to stab home Angel Di Maria’s corner from the right in the 68th minute.

It took France’s World Cup star to the top of the league scoring charts with 13, and ensured PSG heads into the winter break unbeaten in domestic competitions.

PSG is 13 points ahead of second-placed Lille, which lost at home to Toulouse 2-1 and has played two games more than PSG.

Third-placed Lyon closed the gap on Lille to two points as forward Nabil Fekir netted for the third straight game in a 1-1 draw at fourth-place Montpellier. Lyon has a game in hand on Lille, and Montpellier has one in hand on Lyon after previous weekends saw a spate of postponements due to widespread anti-government protests around the country.

Saint-Etienne was the big winner on the night, moving level on points with Montpellier after a comfortable 3-0 home win against Dijon. Saint-Etienne’s front line worked well, with Kevin Monnet-Paquet, Wahbi Khazri and Robert Beric all scoring.

At the other end of the table, the pressure was mounting on beleaguered Monaco coach Thierry Henry after losing at home to last-placed Guingamp 2-0. Since taking charge in October, Henry has won only three out of 14 matches overall.

Monaco was in 19th place and only two points ahead of Guingamp, which scored in the second half through forwards Marcus Thuram and Nolan Roux.

AS Monaco’s Ligue 1 deficit grows with loss to St. Etienne

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French giants AS Monaco look to be in real trouble this season.

Wahbi Khazri scored a pair as St. Etienne downed Monaco 2-0 at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on Friday. The loss left Monaco in 18th place in the table with just six points through the first seven matches of the season.

The 27-year-old attacking midfielder, who signed from Sunderland this summer, first struck in the 41st minute as he was left completely unmarked in the box after splitting the defensive line, and Norwegian midfielder Ole Selnaes found him with a long cross. Khazri was chased by Andrea Raggi, but he was too late as the Tunisian international turned settled, turned, and shot past Diego Benaglio.

Khazri’s second came nine minutes after the halftime break, a frustratingly simple goal from Monaco’s perspective. Yann M’Villa pumped the ball forward to Khazri who settled the hard line drive and whipped it past Benaglio with little trouble for a 2-0 lead.

With the win, St. Etienne jumps all the way into second in the Ligue 1 table, six points back of leaders PSG. Still, the much bigger story is the troublesome start of Monaco, having sold Kylian Mbappe, Thomas Lemar, and Fabinho among other young stars. New signing Aleksandr Golovin has yet to make a serious impact on his way back from an ankle injury, and the team is struggling to put up results, on a seven-match winless run following its opening day victory over Nantes.

Top 20 players of the World Cup group stage

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Well this isn’t easy, Mr. Editor…

The World Cup group stage is complete, and we saw some outstanding performances from players in Russia.

[ MORE: Knockout round schedule, bracket ]

Harry Kane scored five, one more than Romelu Lukaku and Cristiano Ronaldo. Philippe Coutinho looked like the player Barcelona spent a whole lot of dough for, and Keylor Navas shone in defeat.

But what about the lesser known names? Aleksandr Golovin went from being linked with mid-table Premier League teams to the wish lists of the globe’s top sides. And Hirving “Chucky” Lozano delivered on his next big El Tri thing promise.

It’s safe to say many of these names will make our 20, but we still had a starting point of 33 names even with judicious trimming.

Don’t hate, commentate (in the comment section below).

Tunisia’s Wahbi Khazri celebrates one of his two goals and two assists at the World Cup (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

20. Wahbi Khazri, Tunisia

19. Luka Modric, Croatia

18. Xherdan Shaqiri, Switzerland

17. Yerry Mina, Colombia

16. Kasper Schmeichel, Denmark

15. Viktor Claesson, Sweden

14. Lionel Messi, Argentina

13. Kevin De Bruyne, Belgium

12. Carlos Salcedo, Mexico

(Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

11. Neymar, Brazil — 5.3 shots per game and a thrilling performance should have him in the Top Three, but his shameful dive zips him back to here at a minimum. Maybe next round, Ney.

10. Ivan Rakitic, Croatia

9. Philippe Coutinho, Brazil

8. Aleksandr Golovin, Russia

7. Jose Gimenez, Uruguay

6. N'Golo Kante, France

5. Eden Hazard, Belgium

4. Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal

3. Isco, Spain

2. Harry Kane, England

1. Romelu Lukaku, Belgium

Honorable mention: Wilfred Ndidi, Nigeria; Gen Shoji, Japan; Kieran Trippier, England; Casemiro, Brazil; Thiago Silva, Brazil; Toni Kroos, Germany; Artem Dzyuba, Russia; Hirving Lozano, Mexico; Diego Costa, Spain; Luis Suarez, Uruguay; Diego Godin, Uruguay; Andreas Grandqvist, Sweden; Sardar Azmoun, Iran; Aleksandar Mitrovic, Serbia; David Ospina, Colombia; Cho Hyun-Woo, South Korea; Mohamed Salah, Egypt; Edgar Barcenas, Panama; Grzegorz Krychowiak, Poland; Aaron Mooy, Australia; Kendall Waston, Costa Rica; Salem Al Dawsari, Saudi Arabia; Amine Harit, Morocco; Gylfi Sigurdsson, Iceland; Luis Advincula, Peru; M’Baye Niang, Senegal.

Tunisia comes back to beat Panama

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Wahbi Khazri‘s 66th minute goal joined his assist on the scoresheet as Tunisia left the World Cup with a win, defeating Panama 2-1 on Thursday.

Fakhreddine Ben Youssef also scored for Tunisia, which conceded via an own goal.

Both teams were eliminated from knockout round contention before kickoff.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Panama took a surprising lead when Jose Luis Rodriguez’s shot was turned into the Tunisian goal by Yassine Meriah.

Tunisia went level when Khabri fed Ben Youssef in the 51st minute.

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That’s when Oussama Haddadi’s cross met Khazri at the back post to give the African side its second lead.

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