Radamel Falcao scored in his first start of the season to give Monaco a 1-0 win over Nantes in the French league on Sunday, the team’s first victory under new coach Leonardo Jardim.
Falcao helped Monaco overcome a lackluster performance by heading home a cross from leftback Layvin Kurzawa on the stroke of halftime.
The Colombia striker missed the World Cup after picking up a knee injury in January and seemed to be struggling for form as Monaco – last season’s runner-up – opened its campaign with two losses.
Monaco dominated ball possession but struggled to create clear-cut chances. Nantes could have taken the lead in the 24th minute after Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic tripped Nantes striker Yacine Bammou. But Subasic saved the subsequent penalty from Serge Gakpe.
Subasic preserved the win by stopping an angled effort from Gakpe in the 62nd and tipping a bouncing header from Nantes substitute Itay Shechter over the bar in stoppage time.
The hosts were also denied an equalizer in the 85th when Nantes midfielder Kian Hansen hit the bar with a close-range volley from a corner.
In the early game, Lens winger Lalaina Nomenjanahary slotted the ball into an empty net to finish off a counterattack in the 11th minute to hand Lyon its third straight defeat in all competitions.
”We put ourselves in trouble by conceding an early goal. Afterwards, we couldn’t find the solution to score,” Lyon defender Christophe Jallet said. ”The trouble is that our confidence is eroding with such performances.”
Lens won promotion after finishing runner-up in the second division but has been barred from signing new players by the French league’s financial watchdog.
In a tactical match at the Geoffroy Guichard stadium, Rennes frustrated Saint-Etienne and could have opened the scoring in the 37th but a volley from winger Pedro Henrique crashed against the post.
Saint-Etienne striker Mevlut Erding was awarded a generous penalty in the 41st but Costil stopped his low spot kick. Erding then made a solo run in the 46th and had his angled strike punched away by Costil.