Monaco beats Marseille, narrows gap on Ligue 1 leader PSG
PARIS (AP) - Monaco moved to within three points of French league leader Paris Saint-Germain after beating a dispirited Marseille team 2-0 on Sunday.
Monaco also showed it can cope without injured star striker Radamel Falcao as forwards Valere Germain, making only his second start of the season, and Emmanuel Riviere scored a goal each to punish some poor Marseille defending.
The Monaco players all wore T-shirts with ''Fuerza Tigre'' (''Be Strong, Tiger'' referring to his nickname ''El Tigre'') written on them as a show of support for Falcao. The Colombia striker underwent surgery on Saturday after tearing his left knee ligaments in the French Cup in midweek.
''It's a good win for us. I managed to score and so did Valere, and I'm very pleased for him,'' Riviere said. ''Even without Falcao we have good players, but I would like to dedicate this win to him. We're all right behind him, he's a very important player.''
Earlier, Alexandre Lacazette took his league tally to 12 as Lyon beat 10-man Evian 3-0 to extend its unbeaten run to 12 matches and move up to fifth. Also, Bordeaux beat fourth-place Saint-Etienne 2-0.
Monaco hosts PSG on Feb. 9 and can put the pressure on PSG with a win.
''Everything is possible,'' Riviere said. ''We still have to play Paris at home and that will be decisive.''
Marseille's problems continue, however, with the team languishing in ninth place and out of all Cup competitions following a 5-4 defeat to Nice in the French Cup in midweek. At the final whistle, striker Andre-Pierre Gignac held his head in his hands as he lay on the ground.
''The team is really doubting at the moment,'' coach Jose Anigo said. ''They're good players but they have to believe it themselves.''
Riviere almost scored in the first minute when he ran onto a cross from the right and forced goalkeeper Steve Mandanda into a superb one-handed save. Monaco found it easy to get behind Marseille's shaky defense, and right back Andrea Raggi placed his shot too close to Mandanda in the 20th.
A minute later, Marseille center half Souleymane Diawara got the ball stuck under his foot and Riviere stole possession before sprinting towards goal, only to drag his shot wide.
Germain gave Monaco the lead with an expertly-taken goal in the 41st minute, cutting past Diawara before curling the ball past Mandanda and into the bottom right corner.
''It's been a while since I last played and I try to give everything for this club,'' said Germain, who came through the club's youth system. ''It feels really good to play after six difficult months.''
Riviere punished more static defending in the 57th with his ninth goal of the season when midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia picked him out on the left of the area and he slammed the ball into the top corner.
Lyon, meanwhile, had a difficult start to the season, beset by problems due to the friction between president Jean-Michel Aulas and striker Bafetimbi Gomis - who did not want to be sold despite his president's insistence that the club needed money. But now Lyon is making a late charge for a Champions League place.
Saint-Etienne's 2-0 defeat away to Bordeaux means that Lyon is only three points behind Saint-Etienne, which is in fourth place, and seven points behind third-place Lille.
''We're keeping our run going,'' Lyon coach Remi Garde said. ''Evian are not easy to play against, they're a very compact team and defend with a lot of determination.''
Gomis gave Lyon the lead in the 19th minute, turning sharply to shoot past goalkeeper Bertrand Laquait for his eighth league goal of the season after Evian failed to properly clear a corner.
Shortly after Jonathan Mensah was sent off, Lyon went 2-0 up in the 43rd, Gueida Fofana sending Lacazette through on goal and the forward clipped the ball neatly past Laquait.
Lacazette added his second in the 76th after being set up by substitute Jimmy Briand. With France's assistant coach Guy Stephan watching from the stands, Lacazette chose a good time to push his claims for a spot in Didier Deschamps' national team ahead of the World Cup later this year.
''I didn't get many chances but I took them,'' Lacazette said. ''It's good for me and for the team.''
Meanwhile, Bordeaux's win moved it up to sixth spot. Midfielder Abdou Traore and Brazilian center half Henrique scored the goals.
League leader PSG was held 1-1 at mid-table Guingamp on Saturday.