MONACO WITHIN TOUCH­ING DIS­TANCE

Fal­cao brace puts them closer to French league crown

New Straits Times - - Sport -

RADAMEL Fal­cao scored twice as Monaco strode to within a point of the Ligue 1 ti­tle af­ter Sun­day’s 4-0 home win over Lille left them on the verge of de­thron­ing Paris Saint-Ger­main.

The Colom­bian striker net­ted ei­ther side of a Bernardo Silva goal be­fore Ju­nior Alonso bun­dled into his own net as Monaco reeled off a 10th straight league vic­tory, al­though PSG’s 5-0 rout of Saint-Eti­enne pre­vented Leonardo Jardim’s side from of­fi­cially se­cur­ing the ti­tle.

Monaco lead the reign­ing cham­pi­ons by three points — and have a game in hand against Saint-Eti­enne to­mor­row — ahead of this week­end’s fi­nal round of matches, but their vastly su­pe­rior goal dif­fer­ence all but guar­an­tees them an eighth French league crown.

“Be­fore the match we needed four points. Now we need just one,” said Jardim, with the Por­tuguese leav­ing noth­ing to chance.

“We’ll keep work­ing hard un­til the end. On Wednesday we need to pick up the points to win the ti­tle.

“We had to be care­ful (against Lille) and we were. Paris scored five goals and aren’t giv­ing up. I’m ask­ing for one fi­nal ef­fort on Wednesday.”

Fal­cao calmed any lin­ger­ing nerves by hand­ing Monaco the per­fect start at the Stade Louis II when he headed in un­marked from Thomas Le­mar’s left-wing cross af­ter just six min­utes.

Kylian Mbappe tor­mented the Lille de­fence as he wrig­gled past Franck Be­ria to set up Silva for a sim­ple tap-in on the stroke of half-time, with the teenager teeing up Fal­cao for his sec­ond on 69 min­utes.

Ju­nior Alonso then turned a Le­mar cross beyond Lille goal­keeper Mike Maig­nan late on as Monaco put their mid­week Cham­pi­ons League semi-fi­nal de­feat to Ju­ven­tus be­hind them in con­vinc­ing fash­ion.

Edin­son Ca­vani climbed up to 35 league goals this term with a brace as PSG de­mol­ished Saint-Eti­enne, end­ing the hosts’ out­side shot of qual­i­fy­ing for the Europa League.

Lu­cas also scored twice for Unai Emery’s men while Ju­lian Draxler added a fifth, but the cap­i­tal club’s four-year reign in France is ef­fec­tively over with just Satur­day’s visit of Caen to come.

“Monaco have had a great sea­son but they’re not yet math­e­mat­i­cally cham­pi­ons,” said Emery, al­though his side’s goal dif­fer­ence of plus-56 trails well be­hind Monaco’s 73.

“Con­grat­u­la­tions to Monaco for the work they’ve done. This com­pe­ti­tion is good for French football,” he added. “With the num­ber of points we have we could have been cham­pi­ons, but it’s not enough this year with the com­pe­ti­tion from Monaco.”

Nice suf­fered a first home de­feat of the cam­paign as goals from Angers skip­per Cheikh Ndoye and Karl Toko Ekambi se­cured a 2-0 vic­tory at the Al­lianz Riviera, while Mar­seille re­main in con­trol of their Euro­pean des­tiny fol­low­ing a 1-1 draw at Bordeaux.

Uruguay in­ter­na­tional Diego Rolan grabbed an early opener for Bordeaux, but Bafe­timbi Gomis hit his 19th goal of the sea­son to keep fifth-place Mar­seille a point ahead of the home side.

Lyon bounced back from the pain of Thurs­day’s ag­o­nis­ing Europa League last-four exit against Ajax with a 3-1 tri­umph at Mont­pel­lier, Alexan­dre La­cazette net­ting twice af­ter Na­bil Fekir’s open­ing goal.

Di­jon pulled clear of the rel­e­ga­tion play-off place with a 2-0 win over Nancy, who dropped to the foot of the ta­ble fol­low­ing Bas­tia’s 2-0 vic­tory over fel­low strug­glers Lori­ent.

Caen also re­main in a rel­e­ga­tion scrap as a 1-0 home de­feat to Rennes left them just a point clear of the bot­tom three.

Be­fore the match we needed four points. Now we need just one. We’ll keep work­ing hard un­til the end.

LEONARDO JARDIM Monaco coach

Monaco’s Radamel Fal­cao cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing against Lille at the Louis II Sta­dium on Sun­day.

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