2nd-place Monaco beats Lille 2-1 in French league

PARIS (AP) Stevan Jovetic came off the bench to score a fine winner as second-place Monaco beat Lille 2-1 at home in the French league on Friday.

The Montenegro forward timed his run perfectly to latch onto a defense-splitting pass from Portugal midfielder Joao Moutinho, and delicately clip the ball over goalkeeper Mike Maignan in the 61st minute.

Defending champion Monaco is 14 points behind league leader Paris Saint-Germain with eight games left. Monaco is seven points ahead of third-place Marseille and 12 ahead of fourth-place Lyon.

Top scorer Radaeml Falcao returned from a thigh injury to lead the attack at the expense of Jovetic, who was dropped despite scoring five goals in the four games Falcao missed.

Falcao has 17 league goals but the Colombia striker looked well off the pace and barely made an impact in the first half.

Still, he had enough energy to run into the stands after the final whistle and hold up a Monaco shirt in honor of Prince Albert, who was watching at Stade Louis II as he celebrated his 60th birthday.

Lille took the lead against a passive Monaco side in the 16th minute when South African striker Lebo Mothiba was given too much space and turned in a cross from the right.

Attacking midfielder Rony Lopes equalized with his 10th league goal just before halftime, beating Maignan at the second attempt after being set up by Senegal forward Keita Balde.

Jovetic went on at halftime for Balde.

Lille remained in 19th place and deep in relegation trouble.

In Sunday’s games, PSG is at Nice, and Marseille hosts Lyon.