Falcao scores twice as leader Monaco beats Nice 3-0

PARIS (AP) " Benjamin Mendy delivered two assists and Falcao scored twice as leader

Monaco moved three points clear in the French league by defeating Nice 3-0 in their top-of-the-table clash on Saturday.

After struggling to get past the solid defense put up by the visitors, Monaco played with more fluidity in the second half and won the midfield fight at Stade Louis II.

Falcao's second strike was Monaco's 100th goal this season in 38 matches in all competitions. Valere Germain scored the opener for Leonardo Jardim's team, which has scored 68 league goals in 23 games, the best attacking record in the five major European leagues.

With its convincing win Monaco made another strong statement in the race for the French title and avenged a 4-0 loss to Nice in September.

"We conceded too early in the second half, we are not allowed to concede like that," Nice coach Lucien Favre said after his side's first loss in 11 league games, only its second this season.

"It changed everything. After going down 1-0 we should have been more patient. Instead we took risks and left space down the flanks where they are really dangerous," Favre added.

After tight first half, Nice played more aggressively but the move backfired and Monaco made the most of its many openings.

Germain, who was on loan at Nice last season, ended a fine collective move down the left flank to put the hosts in front in the 47th. The Monaco forward headed home from close range after connecting with Bernard Mendy's precise cross. Germain refrained from celebrating his goal against his former club.

Mendy was a constant threat with his crosses from the left and the French defender delivered a second assist at the hour mark, crafting a low pass in the box for Falcao. The striker latched onto it and doubled the home side lead, then put the game to bed in the 81st minute from Thomas Lemar's cutback pass with his 14th league goal.

DIJON 1, PSG 3

Goals from Thiago Silva and Edinson Cavani in the last nine minutes helped defending champion Paris Saint-Germain stay well positioned in the race for the title, just three points behind leader Monaco, level on points with third-place Nice but a better goal difference.

Playing without many regulars including the injured Marco Verratti, Javier Pastore and Angel Di Maria, PSG lacked imagination in the final third and struggled to find openings against a well-organized side.

Lucas opened the scoring from close range after Dijon defenders failed to clear a cross from Serge Aurier in the 29th, but PSG failed to hold on to its lead and conceded two minutes later. Adrien Rabiot clumsily gave the ball away in his own half and Dijon mounted a quick counterattack concluded by Julio Tavares' superb strike in the top corner.

PSG relied on individual brilliance to make the difference and went ahead in the 81st when Thiago Silva netted from the rebound following a header from Tavares off the post. Cavani " the league's top scorer with 22 goals " completed the win when he diverted a shot with his back heel four minutes later.

MONTPELLIER 2, BASTIA 1

New Montpellier coach Jean-Louis Gasset celebrated his first match in charge with a win over Bastia that lifted the southern side three points above the relegation zone.

Gasset, a former assistant coach at PSG during Laurent Blanc's tenure, replaced Frederic Hantz this week.

OTHER MATCHES

A fine diving header from Yoann Gourcuff in the second half between the legs of goalkeeper Cedric Carrasso secured a 1-1 draw for Rennes at Bordeaux after striker Jeremy Menez put the hosts in front.

Last-place Lorient produced its first away win this season with a 1-0 defeat of Lille, and Caen won at Guingamp 1-0.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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