Monaco strengthens 2nd place in French league


Monaco's Radamel Falcao. (Luis Vieira/AP)

PARIS — Defending champion Monaco extended its unbeaten run in the French league to 11 games and cemented its second place in the standings by beating Dijon 4-0 on Friday.

In the absence of striker Radamel Falcao, Keita Balde scored his eighth league goal to give the hosts the lead after 13 minutes, and Fabinho made it 2-0 with a second-half penalty. Rony Lopes and Kamil Glik completed the rout with late goals.

Back from suspension, Balde started up front after Stevan Jovetic was injured while warming up for the game at Louis II Stadium.

The win gave Monaco a four-point lead over third-place Marseille, which hosts Bordeaux on Sunday.

Balde concluded a fine collective move with a neat finish from Djibril Sidibe’s cross. Monaco was then awarded a penalty in the 69th minute after Cedric Yambere fouled Thomas Lemar in the box, and Fabinho sent goalkeeper Baptiste Reynet the wrong way.

Dijon’s back four cracked toward the end as Rony Lopes scored from the rebound after Reynet parried away a fine effort from Rachid Ghezzal, and Glik sealed Monaco’s win in stoppage time with a stunning shot into the top left corner.

Following a 3-1 loss at Real Madrid in the Champions League midweek, leader Paris Saint-Germain returns to domestic duties against promoted Strasbourg on Saturday, nine points clear at the top. PSG lost the corresponding fixture 2-1 in December, when Strasbourg inflicted on Unai Emery’s team its first loss in 22 matches in all competitions.


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