Monaco keeps pace with PSG

Monaco earned a third straight victory by defeating Nice 3-0 to stay in third place, one point behind Lille, while Nantes edged Valenciennes 2-1 to move provisionally into fifth place.

Monaco played without Colombia striker Radamel Falcao, who is recovering from a thigh injury. But it hardly mattered as Monaco converted its first two scoring chances.

Colombia midfielder James Rodriguez put Monaco ahead with a curling shot from a tight angle in the fifth minute before striker Emmanuel Riviere outjumped the Nice defense in the 23rd to meet a cross from Anthony Martial and send a looping header inside the far post for his seventh goal this season.

Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic protected his team’s lead by stopping a low volley from Nice winger Valentin Eysseric in the seventh and tipping around the post a low drive from Argentine striker Dario Cvitanich in the 26th.

Riviere then wasted two good chances. The Monaco striker sent a chip over the bar in the 38th and lost his balance with the goal at his mercy after skipping past Nice goalkeeper Luca Veronese in the 56th.

However, Monaco substitute Lucas Ocampos put the result beyond doubt by stealing the ball from Nice defender Mathieu Bodmer and dribbling past Veronese to slot into an empty net in the 89th.

Jose Saez gave Valenciennes the lead with a lob in the 52nd before Nantes forward Alejandro Bedoya levelled with a long-range strike that deflected off defender Benjamin Angoua in the 59th.

Valenciennes goalkeeper Nicolas Penneteau saved a penalty from Filip Djordjevic in the 72nd after the Nantes striker was fouled by Angoua. But Nantes substitute Fernando Aristeguieta scored the winner by volleying home a corner in the 89th.

On Wednesday, it’s: Evian vs. Paris Saint-Germain; Rennes vs. Saint-Etienne; Guingamp vs. Bordeaux; Ajaccio vs. Bastia; Sochaux vs. Reims; and Montpellier vs. Lorient.

On Thursday, Lyon hosts Toulouse.