• Heavy defeat hits Monaco Champions League hopes

    Lille’s French midfielder Morgan Amalfitano kicks the ball to score during the Frech L1 football match Lille vs Monaco on Monday at the Pierre Mauroy stadium in Villeneuve d’Ascq northern France. AFP PHOTO

    Lille’s French midfielder Morgan Amalfitano kicks the ball to score during the Frech L1 football match Lille vs Monaco on Monday at the Pierre Mauroy stadium in Villeneuve d’Ascq northern France. AFP PHOTO

    PARIS: Monaco’s grip on a Champions League qualifying berth in Ligue 1 loosened further on Sunday (Monday in Manila) as the principality side were swept aside 4-1 at Lille, before Hatem Ben Arfa’s hat-trick saw Nice past Rennes 3-0.

    Champions Paris Saint Germain have a massive 83 points from 33 games, while Lyon and Monaco have 55 with Nice poised on 53 to add some late season drama with two further Champions League berths very much up for grabs.

    Morgan Amalfitano had resurgent Lille in front at the break before a dramatic second half saw both sides reduced to 10 men, Renato Civelli’s red card for the hosts being followed by Elderson Echiejile’s dismissal for Monaco.

    Eder, Mounir Obbadi and Djibril Sidibe added further goals for Lille before Fares Bahlouli netted a consolation for a well beaten Monaco side.

    Even third spot is far from secure for Monaco with not only Nice but Rennes and Saint-Etienne on 51 points, and even Lille in sixth on 49 points still in contention.

    As Monaco slide Nice are now on form and their star striker Ben Arfa in inspirational mood in their comfortable victory over fellow European hopefuls Rennes.

    But Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim insists his side are not looking at the teams queuing up behind them, but at catching Lyon in second.

    “This is a bad day. There was physical and mental fatigue,” Jardim said.

    “We have lost our advantage, but there are still 15 points to play for so it’s still possible to finish second. We will work hard to achieve that goal.”

    Lille have been transformed from relegation contenders into European hopefuls under Frederic Antonetti and they are seventh after claiming a fifth consecutive win.

    Amalfitano had hit the post before he controlled an Eder knockdown and fired into the roof of the net on 37 minutes at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy.

    Lille had Civelli sent off shortly after the restart after the Argentine shoved Ricardo Carvalho to the floor off the ball, but Echiejile followed on 63 minutes for a reckless challenge on Sebastien Corchia.

    The hosts doubled their lead soon after that, with Portugal forward Eder stroking a shot low into the bottom-left corner to mark an impressive display with a goal.

    Sofiane Boufal then set up Obbadi for the third goal and Junior Tallo picked out Sidibe to make it four with a finish through the legs of Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic.

    Substitute Bahlouli netted at the death for Jardim’s side, who are now in real danger of missing out on the Champions League.

    Unstoppable Ben Arfa
    Nice bounced back from defeat at PSG last weekend by cruising to their fourth win in five matches.

    Ben Arfa opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the 33rd minute with his 14th league goal of the season, before coolly finishing from Vincent Koziello’s excellent through ball shortly before half-time.

    The 29-year-old completed the first hat-trick of his career in the second half with the best goal of the bunch.

    The winger, whose stunning displays this term have led to a France international recall ahead of Euro 2016, carried the ball from inside his own half before drilling an unstoppable shot into the far corner.

    There was crowd trouble as struggling giants Marseille drew 0-0 at home to Bordeaux as the pressure eased slightly on under pressure home coach Michel.

    The former European champions should now avoid relegation being six points above relegation with four games to go.

    But fans got so out of hand police fired tear-gas into a tribune in time added on at Sunday’s late game, sending many players back to the dressing room with watering eyes.

    Lyon won 2-0 at Montpellier on Friday thanks to a Maxwell Cornet brace while Saint-Etienne were 1-0 winners against already-relegated Troyes.

    Champions Paris Saint-Germain warmed up for their Champions League showdown with Manchester City by winning 2-0 at Guingamp on Saturday with a shadow line-up.

    Lucas Moura scored both goals for the capital side in Brittany, with the first coming from the penalty spot.



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