Monaco strike duo deliver in Falcao absence
Monaco put the loss of star striker Radamel Falcao to one side and closed the gap on Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain with a 2-0 win against Marseille on Sunday.
With Falcao set to miss the remainder of the season after suffering a serious knee injury playing in the French Cup in midweek, Monaco coach Claudio Ranieri paired Valere Germain and Emmanuel Riviere together in the home attack.
And the duo delivered with a goal each as Monaco took advantage of PSG's disappointing 1-1 draw at Guingamp on Saturday to move to within three points of top spot, just two weeks before they host the capital club at the Stade Louis II.
For Marseille, meanwhile, the defeat followed a disastrous 5-4 defeat to Nice in the French Cup in midweek and left them down in ninth place in the table.
"It's too early to see how the team is going to react during Falcao's absence," said Ranieri.
"But the squad is always very tight."
The Monaco players took to the field sporting t-shirts with the message 'Fuerza Tigre' -- 'Strength Tiger' -- in support of Falcao, who underwent surgery on a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in Portugal on Saturday.
And they were unlucky not to take an early lead after a whirlwind start to the game, as Marseille 'keeper Steve Mandanda turned a Riviere shot over the bar inside the opening minute.
Mandanda then saved from Andrea Raggi and saw Riviere shoot just wide from an excellent position, but the breakthrough eventually came four minutes before the break.
Joao Moutinho found Germain, who broke away from Kassim Abdallah before curling a delightful low finish past Mandanda and into the net at the far post.
Germain, who is the son of former Marseille player Bruno, was one of the stars of Monaco's run to promotion last season, but this was just his second top-flight start and his first Ligue 1 goal.
Riviere then finished from a Geoffrey Kondogbia cross shortly before the hour mark to move level with Falcao on nine league goals for the campaign and effectively kill the game, although Danijel Subasic did make a decisive intervention to deny Andre-Pierre Gignac at the other end soon after.
Elsewhere on Sunday, Lyon continued their superb recent form with a 3-0 win over struggling Evian.
Bafetimbi Gomis turned and fired in his eighth league goal of the campaign to put Lyon ahead on 19 minutes at the Stade de Gerland, before Evian had Ghanaian defender Jonathan Mensah sent off six minutes prior to the interval.
Alexandre Lacazette then netted a brace to take his tally for the season to 12 league goals, leaving Remi Garde's side with six successive wins in all competitions at the start of 2014.
OL are now unbeaten in 12 games since a 4-0 defeat away to Paris Saint-Germain at the beginning of December, and that remains their only defeat in their last 18 outings.
As a result, they lie fifth in the table, three points adrift of fourth-placed Saint-Etienne, who were beaten 2-0 at Bordeaux, for whom Abdou Traore and Henrique were on target.
"There are still a lot of matches to play and lots of points at stake but when you go on a run of three (league) victories it gives you a real boost up the table," said Garde, whose side endured a poor start to the campaign.
"We need to keep our feet on the ground and recover well before a programme of eight matches in February, but we are starting to erase all the crap that we produced before.
"What we have done over the last six weeks, we will need to do again three times over. That shows the size of the task. It is also very exciting to be in this position, coming from behind and building up a bit of confidence."
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