Monaco tightens grip on second, Marseille extends run

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PARIS: Monaco reasserted their grip on second place in Ligue 1 with a 2-0 victory over Bastia on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila), while 10-man Marseille beat Montpellier 1-0 to stretch their unbeaten run to 11 matches.

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Former Monaco defender Francois Modesto gifted the hosts the opening goal as he inadvertently turned a corner into his own net 10 minutes before half-time at the Stade Louis II.

Bernando Silva’s deflected strike on 73 minutes wrong-footed Bastia goalkeeper Jean-Louis Leca as Monaco registered a third win in four attempts to move five points clear of third-place Angers.

Brazilian striker Vagner Love made his first start for Monaco following his January move from Corinthians, completing 75 minutes before he was replaced by Argentine Guido Carrillo.

“The team played well, we controlled our opponents, created a handful of good chances and scored twice. We did lots of good things,” said Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim, who was pleased with his side’s response after a chastening 3-0 defeat at Angers on Saturday.

Marseille have relied on their superb away form in their bid to challenge for a Champions League place, and it was no different at the Stade de la Mosson.

The visitors were without leading scorer Michy Batshuayi through suspension, while Scotland international Steven Fletcher was not registered in time following his surprise arrival from Sunderland.

However, Georges-Kevin Nkoudou has enjoyed a fine debut season at OM after his summer switch from Nantes and the 20-year-old delivered the game’s only goal on 68 minutes with a tidy finish past Laurent Pionnier.

Nkoudou’s fifth goal of the season was enough to give Michel’s side a sixth away win in eight outings, although the visitors were forced to see out the final 20 minutes a man down as Florian Thauvin was sent off for a needless lunging tackle on Vitorino Hilton.

Michel sprung to the defence of Thauvin, who only rejoined Marseille on loan from Newcastle on Sunday, saying the decision to brandish a red card was somewhat harsh.

“He wanted to do well so badly. He apologised to his team-mates, but a yellow card would perhaps have been a more fair punishment for the incident,” said the Spaniard.

On Wednesday, runaway leaders Paris Saint-Germain can break Nantes’ 20-year-old record unbeaten run in Ligue 1.

Laurent Blanc’s side stretched their streak without a loss to 32 matches with Sunday’s 2-0 victory at Saint-Etienne and can claim the top-flight record outright if they avoid defeat at home to Lorient.

AFP

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