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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.

Report: Steffen passes Man City medical; Loan likely

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American goalkeeper Zack Steffen is indeed off to Manchester City, though not for long.

Goal.com reports that the 23-year-old USMNT backstop has passed his medical and signed a contract ahead of January move from Columbus which will earn the Crew between $7.5 and 10 million when all is said and done.

[ MORE: Risk worth it for Steffen ]

The report says Steffen is not likely to be approved for a UK work permit. Should that happen, Girona in La Liga and Nice in Ligue 1 are named as loan options. Paul Tenorio of The Athletic says a loan back to Columbus is also possible.

Canada-born Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou, 27, is the entrenched starter at Girona, though (complete speculation here) perhaps this could be a loan swap to get Man City an upgrade at back-up to Ederson (again, assuming Steffen is denied a UK work permit). The same could be true for Walter Benitez at Nice, who is managed by long-time NYCFC boss Patrick Vieira.

Steffen is expected to rival Club Brugge goalkeeper Ethan Horvath for the USMNT’s No. 1 shirt, with many perceiving the Crew man to have a leg up due to his relationship with longtime Columbus and new USMNT boss Gregg Berhalter.

Ligue 1: Falcao paces Monaco; Vieira loses on Nice debut

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PARIS (AP) Radamel Falcao came off the bench to score and set up another goal as Monaco opened its French league campaign with a 3-1 win at Nantes on Saturday.

A dull match quickly improved when Falcao came on midway through the second half. The veteran Colombia striker immediately started combining well with Montenegro forward Stevan Jovetic, who set up a headed goal for attacking midfielder Rony Lopes with a deflected cross in the 69th minute.

With 10 minutes left, Falcao gathered a high ball near halfway and intelligently flicked the ball over his head into the path of Jovetic, who scored with a cool finish.

Three minutes later, Falcao was celebrating after tapping in Samuel Grandsir’s low cross from the right, after Grandsir was freed by Jovetic’s measured pass inside the penalty area.

“Falcao is an important player for us, it’s easier when you have players of his quality,” Lopes said. “We didn’t play well in the first half.”

Nantes salvaged some pride through striker Emiliano Sala’s goal in the second minute of injury time.

In Friday’s season-opening match, attacking midfielder Dimitri Payet scored twice as Marseille beat Toulouse 4-0.


Patrick Vieira’s first match in charge of Nice ended in a 1-0 home defeat to Reims.

The former France and Arsenal midfielder was not helped by the fact he had no recognized striker, with Mario Balotelli – last season’s top scorer – suspended and Alassane Plea sold during the offseason.

That left Vieira with midfielder Bassem Srarfi as a makeshift forward – and the Tunisia international was ineffective.

Midfield counterpart Moussa Doumbia scored for Reims after just three minutes.

Transfer rumor roundup: Kovacic to London, Rabiot to Manchester

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Newcastle United, Fulham, and West Ham United have reportedly made offers for Nice striker Alassane Plea.

Nice reportedly wants $36 million for the 25-year-old, who is coming off a career-best 16 goals in league play and added four more in Europe.

[ MORE: Real denies Neymar offer ]

The Chronicle says Newcastle’s offer was below the asking price, while Sky Sports says West Ham met the fee with its bid.

Plea and Mario Balotelli missed the first day of training under new Nice manager Patrick Vieira, but…

Tutto Mercato says West Ham United has made an offer for Real Madrid’s Croatian midfielder Mateo Kovacic, who wants to leave the Spanish superpowers.

The 24-year-old has logged 151 minutes at the World Cup, grabbing an assist, and made 36 appearances with three assists for Real this season.

Going back to Newcastle, the Magpies have also been linked with a trio of players, two of whom have worn the black and white stripes in their careers.

Rafa Benitez reportedly wants to bring Andros Townsend back to St. James’ Park from Crystal Palace in addition to bringing last season’s on loan star, Kenedy, to Newcastle on a full-time basis.

He also apparently wants West Brom’s Venezuelan big man, Salomon Rondon, to feast off the playmaking skills of the aforementioned wide men.

A report out of France says Paris Saint-Germain’s Adrien Rabiot is considering his future with the Parisian outfit.

His mother, 23, represents him and has met with Barcelona, Juventus, and both big Manchester clubs: United and City.

Still, the report says that Rabiot wants to play a big role for new boss Thomas Tuchel at PSG. Stay tuned.

NYCFC’s Vieira leaves MLS for Ligue 1 job at Nice

Graham Hughes /The Canadian Press via AP
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Patrick Vieira gave two and a half years of his coaching career to New York City FC, and now the Arsenal and France legend is headed for a job in Europe.

[ MORE: USMNT, France draw 1-1 | Player ratings | Three things ]

City Football Group, the group which owns NYCFC and Manchester City (among others), announced that Vieira will leave his post immediately after accepting the manager’s job at Ligue 1 side Nice. Vieira’s interest, as well as advanced negotiations between the manager and club, were reported by PST’s Matt Reed in mid-May.

Vieira compiled a record of 39W-22D-27L in his 88 games in charge at Yankee Stadium. He will take most of his first-team staff with him.

Rodolfo Borrell, currently an assistant coach at Man City, is the favorite to replace Vieira.

“From the beginning, City Football Group and its leadership, particularly our Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak, Brian Marwood, Ferran Soriano and Marty Edelman have believed in me and have helped guide me through the last eight years of my career — starting with my time as a player and ultimately culminating with my first opportunity to manage a First Team,” Vieira said in a release.

[ MORE: Team-by-team 2018 World Cup previews ]

“Khaldoon and I have been fortunate to know Patrick since he joined City Football Group in 2010,” NYCFC vice-chairman Marty Edelman said. “After being one of the most revered and successful players in the world, it has been a pleasure for us to watch his transition into coaching.”

“Patrick has been a fantastic role model at NYCFC and a true leader on and off the field. We know that leaving the Club has been a difficult decision for him but we understand his choice to return to Europe where he spent his whole playing career.”