PARIS: Monaco regained the initiative in their battle with Lyon for an automatic pass to the Champions League next season with a 2-1 defeat of crisis-club Marseille in Ligue 1 on Sunday (Monday in Manila).
Goals in the second half from Bernardo Silva and Andrea Raggi moved Monaco back into the all important second spot on 58 points, two clear of Lyon, with four games remaining.
“It’s an important victory. After this, each match will be a final,” said Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim.
Marseille, who got a consolation stoppage time goal from Michy Batshuayi, were left languishing fifth from bottom, six points off the drop zone, at the end of a week when owner Margarita Louis-Dreyfus put the ailing French giants up for sale.
“There’s a sense of sadness, of abandonment, which led to this result,” said embattled Marseille manager Michel.
“All that we’ve worked towards this week wasn’t reflected out on the pitch.
“The players are worried, they are concerned and anxious.”
Monaco, dominating the encounter at their Louis II home, took a deserved lead two minutes after the restart when Silva went on a 40-meter charge towards the box, the Portuguese international shrugging off Marseille’s Lucas Silva to fire low past the helpless Steve Mandanda.
Silva had been thwarted by quick work from the Marseille keeper towards the end of the first half. That was after Monaco’s Lacina Traore had the ball in the back of the net only for the referee to disallow his effort for offside.
Traore and Helder Costa were starting in place of Vagner Love and Thomas Lemas as manager Leonardo Jardim reshuffled his pack after last weekend’s 4-1 loss at Lille.
On 75 minutes Raggi wrapped up the win.
The shaven-headed Italian defender controlled the ball well off a corner sent over by Silva and helped on its way by the head of Nabil Dirar to shoot right-footed from the edge of the box.
On Friday Alexandre Lacazette grabbed a late equalizer as 10-man Lyon salvaged a 1-1 draw against fourth-placed Nice.
Twenty four hours later Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paris Saint Germain ripped Caen to pieces in a 6-0 thrashing at the Parc des Princes. The champions are 28 points clear.
The result came quick on the heels of PSG’s disappointing 3-2 aggregate Champions League quarterfinals defeat to Manchester City.
Ibrahimovic scored twice, taking his tally to 32 league goals this season to equal his previous best, while Argentine playmaker Angel di Maria, so ineffective against City, netted with a sumptuous lob.
Other goals came from the returning Blaise Matuidi, banned for the City game, a typically marauding Edinson Cavani run and shot made it five and defender Maxwell turned home a Cavani cross for 6-0.
Coach Laurent Blanc conceded that the rout “doesn’t cancel out” the massive disappointment felt by PSG of their Champions League exit.
“This win doesn’t cancel out anything, it doesn’t allow us to progress to the Champions League semifinals,” he said.
They must now turn their attentions to the French Cup semifinals with Lorient on Tuesday and the League Cup final against resurgent Lille next Saturday at the Stade de France.