Monaco starts title defence with win over Toulouse in Ligue 1

Falcao scored the second goal for Monaco on Friday. (Claude Paris/AP)

Monaco lost key players during the off-season but not its fighting spirit as the French champion started its title defence with a 3-2 win over Toulouse on Friday after twice coming from behind.

Kamil Glik scored the winner with 20 minutes left after Jemerson and Radamel Falcao levelled twice for the hosts in the opening game of the season.

Monaco was one of the most spectacular teams in Europe last season, scoring 107 league goals in 38 games to win the title eight points clear of Paris Saint-Germain.

But the team was reshuffled this summer after the club sold left back Benjamin Mendy, central midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko, playmaker Bernardo Silva, forward Valere Germain and midfielder Nabil Dirar. Rival PSG, in turn, has been boosted by Brazil star Neymar’s arrival for a world record 222 million euros ($262 million).

Monaco made a sloppy start on a hot evening but showed it still has the resources to defend its title, especially if star striker Kylian Mbappe decides to stay. The France international has been courted by major European teams and his future at Monaco remains unclear.

Mbappe did not score but was involved in dangerous moves before he was substituted in the 75th minute. Monaco’s midfield also worked well, with Joao Moutinho releasing quick passes that caught out Toulouse’s static defence.

Zinedine Machach and Andy Delort scored for Toulouse.

The first two goals of the French league season were scored from set pieces as Jemerson levelled for Monaco in the 28th minute from Moutinho’s corner with a fine glancing header.

Monaco had been caught cold after just seven minutes following a long corner that landed outside the area. Delort collected the ball and cleverly chested it inside the box. The ball rebounded and the 21-year-old Machaach volleyed into the bottom corner.

Monaco improved after Jemerson’s equalizer. With France coach Didier Deschamps watching from the stands, Leonardo Jardim’s players pressed high in Toulouse’s half but Falcao and Mbappe could not find real opportunities before the interval.

Monaco was then made to pay for a poor start to the second half after Djibril Sidibe nonchalantly gave the ball away near the halfway line. Jimmy Durmaz launched the counterattack with a run down the left side and crossed the ball for Delort, who scored with a precise low shot in the 52nd.

Jardim brought on a new forward in Guido Carrillo and the visitors could not hold on to their lead for long. Mbappe showed his brilliant technical skills down the left flank and released the ball with a back-heel flick to free up Jorge. The Brazilian defender crossed for Falcao, who headed home for his 33rd goal in 50 French league matches.

Glik’s input then decided the outcome of the match, as the defender headed in Moutinho’s free kick in the 70th.