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Gelson Martins
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Monaco’s Martins suspended six months for shoving referee (video)

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Gelson Martins is learning a costly lesson after shoving a referee last month.

Martins has been suspended for six months by the French league for a Feb. 6 incident in which he pushed referee Mikael Lesage, who had sent off teammate Tiemoue Bakayoko.

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The 21-times capped Portuguese winger, 24, will not be eligible to return to AS Monaco until July 1.

Suspensions for physical incidents with referees will almost always be harsh given the importance of the position in the sport and the freedom necessary to do their jobs. There’s also increased focus on protecting referees in recent years.

Referees in Berlin protested increased incidents of violence earlier this year, while Franck Ribery and Neymar have both been suspended for making contact with officials. In 2014, an American referee was killed after a player punched him in the face after a red card incident. The player was sentenced to eight years in prison. A lower-league playoff match in the U.S. was abandoned this Fall after a referee was punched by a coach.

Martins left Sporting Lisbon for Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2018, going on loan to Monaco after a half-season. Monaco purchased him Atleti last summer.

He has eight goals and three assists in 37 league matches for Monaco over parts of two seasons. Martins leads the team in dribbles per game (2.4) and is averaging 1.3 key passes per contest via WhoScored.

In other words, it’s a big loss.

Monaco sits seventh in Ligue 1, six points back of the European places.

Neymar’s two goals not enough as PSG draws 3-3 with Monaco

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PARIS — Neymar’s two goals were not enough as Monaco punished sloppy defending to draw 3-3 at French league leader Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday.

PSG moved five points ahead of second-place Marseille, with PSG playing its game in hand at Monaco on Wednesday.

Robert Moreno’s first league game in charge of Monaco, after replacing the fired Leonardo Jardim, was an impressive one as his side twice came from behind and nearly won late on at Parc des Princes.

Neymar put PSG ahead in the third minute with an excellent finish, controlling a clever lofted pass over the defense from Italy midfielder Marco Verratti on his chest and nonchalantly guiding the ball inside the near post.

But Monaco midfielder Cesc Fabregas picked out Wissam Ben Yedder with a flicked pass from the edge of the area and, after Ben Yedder was bundled over by goalkeeper Keylor Navas, midfielder Gelson Martins poked in the loose ball after seven minutes.

Monaco’s second goal in the 12th looked alarmingly easy.

A team move started from the edge of Monaco’s penalty area ended with Ben Yedder collecting a pass inside PSG’s area, shuffling past a defender, and expertly beating Navas with a curling shot for his league-leading 14th goal of the season.

Eighth-place Monaco should have been 3-1 up but, with time to pick his spot, forward Keita Balde placed his shot too close to Navas.

PSG punished that immediately, with Neymar collecting a pass from Angel Di Maria and curling a shot which deflected off defender Fode Ballo-Toure for an own-goal in the 24th, making it 2-2.

After Monaco center half Kamil Glik hit the post with a header from a corner, PSG went ahead in the 42nd. Martins fouled Kylian Mbappe for a penalty, and Neymar sent goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte the wrong way with ease for his 10th league goal.

Still, Monaco pressed forward and Russia midfielder Aleksandr Golovin curled wide with the goal at his mercy seconds before the break.

Lecomte reacted well to keep out Neymar’s shot early on in an even second half.

Substitute Islam Slimani punished more slack PSG defending to equalize in the 70th, turning home a loose ball after Martins bamboozled the PSG defense and his shot was deflected by Marquinhos into the alert Slimani’s path.

The referee disallowed the goal for offside, but then awarded it after a video review because Marquinhos’ intervention effectively played Slimani back onside.

Navas made a sharp one-handed save to keep out Slimani’s close-range header from a corner in the 88th. PSG was lucky to avoid a penalty since center half Thiago Silva deflected Slimani’s header with his raised hand.

CLINICAL NANTES

Mehdi Abeid and Ludovic Blas provided the goals as Nantes won 2-0 at struggling Saint-Etienne to move up to fourth place.

Abeid put Nantes ahead in the 23rd minute with a powerful strike from outside the penalty area after Saint-Etienne’s defense failed to clear the ball properly.

Blas netted three minutes after the break from Nigeria forward Moses Simon’s pass.

Saint-Etienne’s form has dropped in recent games and a ninth defeat of the season pushed coach Claude Puel‘s side down to 15th spot.

HOME COMFORT

Dijon extended its unbeaten home run to eight league games with a 1-0 win against Lille, despite having a player sent off early on.

Defender Hamza Mendyl received a red card in the 21st minute for kicking Luiz Araujo in the ribs.

After Lille missed several chances, Dijon scored in the 47th when Julio Tavares latched onto midfielder Mama Balde’s chested pass and shot confidently past goalkeeper Mike Maignan for his fourth league goal this season.

Both teams finished with 10 men after Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumare was sent off in the 67th.

Lille dropped to fifth place behind Nantes while Dijon, which beat PSG at home this season, rose to 16th place.

Report: Icardi ghosts Monaco, demands return to Inter squad

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The Mauro Icardi situation at Inter Milan has taken another step towards the absurd, as the player has reportedly rejected a transfer to French side Monaco, instead looking to force his way back into the Inter squad for the coming season.

The Italian club has been looking to sell Icardi all summer after their nasty public falling out last season. However, few clubs have been willing to put forth any serious interest until Monaco stepped forward recently hoping for a loan deal, according to reports in Italy.

However, according to both Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport and independent journalist Gianluca di Marzio, Icardi has ghosted Monaco, failing to return any of the club’s attempts to reach out to negotiate a deal. With the Ligue 1 transfer deadline approaching on Monday, Icardio’s actions – or lack thereof – has left the French side with little choice but to pursue other options, instead looking to bring on RB Leipzig striker Jean-Kevin Augustin.

Icardi’s refusal to negotiate an end to this saga has left Inter furious, but there’s yet another twist to the story. According to the two reports, the club received an email last night from Icardi’s legal team demanding not just to be admitted back into the Inter first-team, but also upwards of over a $1.5 million in compensation for his forced time away. Icardi was stripped of his captaincy near the end of last season, suspended by the club for February and March before returning in April to finish out the season.

Even if the club were to welcome Icardi back with open arms – a difficult proposition at this point in time – he would have serious competition for his place. Inter clearly planned on moving on from the Argentine this summer, as evident by the arrival of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez. Fellow Argentine striker Lautaro Martinez is also in fabulous form, breaking in to the Inter first-team during Icardi’s initial absence last season and continuing that form through the summer where he scored a pair of goals in the Copa America.

Ligue 1 wrap: Mbappe, Cavani limp off in PSG’s 4-0 Neymar-less win

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PARIS (AP) After being involved in one of the most comical moments in European football last season, striker Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting distinguished himself with a fine goal and scored a second as Paris Saint-Germain beat Toulouse 4-0 in the French league on Sunday.

The resounding win came at a price, however, as PSG forwards Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe, clutching the back of his left leg and grimacing, limped off.

PSG coach Thomas Tuchel said the players will have tests Monday to determine the extent of their injuries.

Despite being match fit, record signing Neymar remains unavailable as he seeks to push through a move away from the club – a situation which appears increasingly exasperating for Tuchel.

“Today was the occasion (for him to play) … it’s certain he could have played today,” Tuchel said in French on Canal Plus television. “It’s not a clear situation and it should be clear.”

Tuchel then went as far as to suggest he has little or no say as to whether Neymar can play against Metz on Friday – just days before the transfer window shuts.

It was Choupo-Moting, then, who replaced Cavani in the 13th minute and he will not enjoy many nights like this.

Receiving a pass from Angel Di Maria, the Cameroon striker burst into the penalty area, span around with one touch to move inside two defenders and drilled the ball into the bottom left corner with the next touch in the 50th minute.

It was only his fourth goal in 23 league games since a surprise move from unheralded English side Stoke last season.

In April, Choupo-Moting was widely mocked on social networks for an extraordinary passage of play in a 2-2 home draw against Strasbourg. Amid disbelieving looks from teammates, he somehow prevented a goal for his team despite the ball being about to cross the goal-line, gently nudging the ball onto the post before it was cleared by defenders.

He was only on the field on Sunday night due to an injury to Cavani, who limped off with what appeared to be a leg muscle injury. Midway through the second period, Mbappe left the field after appearing to hurt his hamstring.

After a first half in which Mbappe missed good chances, Choupo-Moting’s opener was a welcome breakthrough. Five minutes later, it was 2-0 when Toulouse defender Mathieu Goncalves turned Pablo Sarabia’s cross into his own net.

Goncalves was harshly judged to have conceded a penalty soon after, slipping over in the area and powerless to stop Sarabia’s cross hitting his left arm. Referee Jerome Brisard still gave it, despite a video review. With Cavani injured and Neymar absent, Di Maria took the spot kick and saw his effort well saved by goalkeeper Baptiste Reynet.

Choupo-Moting confidently drove home a cross from left back Juan Bernat in the 75th and Brazil defender Marquinhos headed in Di Maria’s corner from the left late on for the fourth goal as PSG climbed up to third place with six points – three points behind leader Rennes.

Lyon can move back top on goal difference with a win at Montpellier on Tuesday.

OTHER MATCHES

Rennes won 2-0 at Strasbourg.

Confidence was high after last Sunday’s 2-1 home win against PSG, and goals from midfielder Clement Grenier in the first half and powerful center forward M’Baye Niang soon after the break made it nine points from three games.

Monaco, meanwhile, is still seeking its first win after drawing 2-2 at home to Nimes.

New signings Wissam Ben Yedder and Islam Slimani scored to put Monaco 2-0 up at halftime.

But after Brazilian defender Jemerson’s 55th-minute sending off, Nimes hit back through midfielder Romain Philippoteaux and 18-year-old forward Kevin Denkey.

Jemerson was shown a yellow card for a tackle from behind on Philippoteaux, but the referee changed it to a red following a video review.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Leicester seals permament deal for Youri Tielemans

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Leicester City is backing Brendan Rodgers.

The Foxes broke their transfer record on Monday, sealing the long-anticipated move for 2018-19 loan star Youri Tielemans from Monaco.

The move is worth a reported $50 million, and will tie Tielemans to the King Power Stadium for four seasons.

[ MORE: What we learned about the USMNT this month ]

Tielemans, 22, was wonderful during his half-season with Leicester, posting three goals and four assists with the Foxes.

Remarkably, Tielemans cost just $12 million less than Ayoze Perez of Newcastle, and the pair will join Jamie Vardy, James Maddison, Harvey Barnes, and Demarai Gray in a talented attack.

How is this crew going to line up?!? They have the attacking depth to challenge for a seventh and could even sneak a bit higher given a down season from Manchester United or another power.

They should also be able to aim for a Europa League spot via one of the domestic Cups.