PARIS, Oct 29 — Monaco shrugged off the absence of leading scorer Radamel Falcao as they eased to a 2-0 victory away at Bordeaux in Ligue 1 yesterday, but Claudio Ranieri’s Nantes went down to a rare defeat.
Keita Balde and Thomas Lemar scored second-half goals for the defending champions, who close back to within four points of league leaders Paris Saint-Germain.
PSG, without the suspended Neymar, had maintained their unbeaten start to the campaign by brushing aside Nice 3-0 on Friday thanks to a brace from Edinson Cavani and a Dante own goal.
Cavani now has 99 Ligue 1 goals and 11 this season, leaving him just two point behind Falcao at the top of the scorers’ charts.
The Colombian scored a hattrick when Monaco won 4-0 in Bordeaux last season but missed this trip due to a thigh injury — he hopes to return for Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Besiktas in Istanbul.
In his absence here, coach Leonardo Jardim selected former Lazio forward Balde to spearhead the principality side’s attack and he opened the scoring just before the hour mark.
Brazilian leftback Jorge delivered a ball into the box that was met by Joao Moutinho with a cushioned header down for Balde to finish.
It was his second goal in as many matches after he netted the opener in the 2-0 win over Caen last weekend.
France winger Lemar then made it 2-0 on 65 minutes, collecting a long ball forward by Kamil Glik and cutting in from the left before firing home.
Bordeaux could not get back into the game and have now taken just one point from their last four outings as they sit seventh.
“It is a good victory with the players who were available today and who are capable of winning matches for us,” said Jardim.
“Keita Balde is raising his performance levels every day and we can use him out wide or through the middle.”
Semi-finalists last season, Monaco are currently bottom of their Champions League group, meaning their midweek trip to Turkey will be crucial.
“At Besiktas we will have to do more in every area if we are to win the game,” added Jardim.
Behind Monaco, third-placed Nantes lost ground as they went down to a 1-0 defeat away at Dijon, for whom Cape Verde forward Julio Tavares headed in the winner in the first half.
It was a first defeat in nine league games for Ranieri’s side and they could be overtaken by Lyon, Marseille and Saint-Etienne, who all play today.
“Dijon scored and deserved their win. We spent an hour warming up and then only played for the last 30 minutes,” bemoaned Ranieri.
“We had chances, but Nantes can lose too. I want my players to fight from beginning to end and that was not the case.”
Caen and Rennes were the other winners on Saturday as they recorded 1-0 victories against Troyes and Montpellier respectively.
Meanwhile, bottom club Metz, who have lost nine of their 10 Ligue 1 matches this season, on Saturday announced the appointment of Frederic Hantz, 51, as their new coach.
Hantz, who has previously coached Bastia and Montpellier in the top flight, succeeds Philippe Hinschberger who was sacked last weekend.
Metz are in action at in-form Lyon this afternoon.
French Ligue 1 results yesterday
Bordeaux 0 Monaco 2 (Balde 57, Lemar 65)
Caen 1 (Rodelin 30) Troyes 0
Dijon 1 (Tavares 20) Nantes 0
Guingamp 1 (Diallo 44) Amiens 1 (El Hajjam 22)
Montpellier 0 Rennes 1 (Brandon 59)
Strasbourg 2 (Lala 28-pen, Terrier 77) Angers 2 (Toko Ekambi 69, Sunu 76)
Lyon v Metz (1400 GMT), Toulouse v Saint-Etienne (1600 GMT), Lille v Marseille (2000 GMT)
Paris Saint-Germain 3 (Cavani, 3, 31, Dante 52-og) Nice 0 — AFP