• Monaco leads three-way Champions League chase

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    PARIS: Monaco can clinch an immediate return to the Champions League with a win at Lorient on Saturday (Sunday in Manila), but Marseille and Saint-Etienne can pip them to the post on the final day of the season.

    Paris Saint-Germain clinched the title last weekend, while Lyon were confirmed as runners- up, but third place in Ligue 1 gives access to the final Champions League qualifying round in August.

    Worthy but unexpected quarter-finalists in the Champions League this season, third-placed Monaco have 68 points, just two ahead of Marseille and Saint-Etienne on 66, with Marseille also enjoying a comfortable goal difference margin on the other two.

    Monaco have been outstanding in Ligue 1 since December, losing just twice and conceding a miserly eight goals.

    Their 40-year-old Portuguese coach Leonardo Jardim has forged a water-tight defence and built an industrious, youthful counter-attacking system where 20-year-old midfielder Bernardo Silva and 19-year-old striker Anthony Martial are showing there is life after Falcao and James Rodriguez.

    “We don’t need to worry about anyone else, and we won’t be listening to the other games” said Jardim, who agreed a contract extension until 2019 last week.

    “We just need to win our match, because Marseille and Saint Etienne are going to win theirs,” said Jardim, who will be satisfied Lorient secured their top-flight status last week.

    AFP

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