Berbatov goal hands Monaco a Champions League spot
PARIS (AP) — Dimitar Berbatov helped Monaco secure a Champions League spot with a 1-0 win over Nice in the French league on Sunday.
Berbatov chipped goalkeeper David Ospina in the fifth minute and the hosts came close to doubling their lead when Valere Germain struck the post in the 12th.
Mounir Obbadi preserved the victory by clearing a rebound off the line after goalkeeper Danijel Subasic saved a header from Nice centerback Mathieu Bodmer in the 68th.
”The second half was tough because most of the players played on Wednesday when we lost,” Monaco defender Aymen Abdennour said, ”and we were a bit frustrated and exhausted.”
Monaco lost 3-1 to Guingamp in extra time in the semifinals of the French Cup on Wednesday.
Monaco consolidated second place in the league and moved within seven points of leader Paris Saint-Germain, which has a game in hand.
The second-place team qualifies directly for the group stage of the Champions League while the side finishing third enters the preliminary round of the lucrative European competition.
Elsewhere, Ajaccio was relegated after losing 2-1 at mid-table Bastia in the Corsican derby. Ajaccio striker Aboubacar Camara opened the scoring in the fourth minute before Bastia winger Florian Raspentino leveled with a header in the 32nd. Sebastien Squillaci scored the winner by converting a rebound in the 88th.
Guingamp is under the threat of relegation after losing 5-1 at Bordeaux. Mali international Cheick Diabate scored a hat trick in a 17-minute span to give the hosts a 3-0 lead. Guingamp midfielder Moustapha Diallo pulled one back in the 29th. But Bordeaux forward Jussie and Diego Rolan put the result beyond doubt in the second half.
Sochaux won 1-0 at Reims to keep its safety hopes alive by pulling within two points of 17th-place Guingamp. Sebastien Corchia volleyed home a cross from Julien Faussurier in the 41st.
Valenciennes’ hopes of avoiding relegation took a hit with a 6-2 loss to Nantes. Serge Gakpe netted twice to give the visitors a 4-0 lead in the 54th. Valenciennes trails Guingamp by six points.
Lorient striker Vincent Aboubakar scored twice in stoppage time to salvage a 4-4 draw with 10-man Montpellier. Arguably the most improved player in the league this season, Aboubakar raised his tally to 16 league goals.
Montpellier goalkeeper Geoffrey Jourdren was sent off in the 28th for fouling Jeremie Aliadiere, who converted the subsequent penalty to equalize at 1-1. Despite its numerical disadvantage, Montpellier took a 4-1 lead with goals from Mbaye Niang, Jean Deza and Remy Cabella in the second half.