Paris, April 24 (IANS) AS Monaco went back to the top spot on goal difference after winning 2-1 at Olympique Lyon while third-placed Nice dropped crucial points in the Ligue 1 title race as they were held to a 1-1 draw at Toulous.
Strikers Radamel Falcao and Kylian Mbappe earned Monaco a two-goal lead going into halftime late on Sunday night before Lyon’s midfielder Lucas Tousart pulled one back shortly after the interval, reports Xinhua news agency.
Monaco drew level with defending champions Paris Saint-Germain on 80 points. But they were ahead due to a superior goal difference. Nice were placed third with six points adrift.
In a match featuring two European semi-finalists, both Monaco and Lyon made several changes to their starting roster following midweek games in their respective continental competitions.
Lyon’s head coach Bruno Genesi handed 19-year-old Jean Philippe Mateta his first start for the team as a replacement for rested top scorer Alexandre Lacazette.
Monaco broke the deadlock through a corner kick on 36 minutes, when Falcao and teammate Kamil Glik finished a brilliant header relay to score his 19th league goal of the season.
Bernardo Silva almost doubled the visitors’ lead in the 43rd minute, but his powerful shot hit the underside of the crossbar.
It was 18-year-old sensation Mbappe who completed the mission a minute later when he beat Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes with a low shot.
The Lyon players regrouped in the second half, and Tousart headed in Memphis Depay’s corner past Danijel Subasic before another header of his hit just wide off the post.
Italian striker Mario Balotelli, who returned from a one-game suspension, was not selected by Nice head coach Lucien Favre as a starter following his unstable form in recent weeks, with Mickael Le Bihan taking the position up front.
Corentin Jean, loaned from Monaco, scored his first goal for Toulouse in the 57th minute with a left-footed shot. However, Toulouse’s lead only lasted three minutes, as Valentin Eysseric collected Jean Seri’s corner to smash it into the net.
Balotelli only came off the bench for Les Aiglons with three minutes remaining.
Elsewhere, Saint-Etienne tied Rennes 1-1.
The game was played behind closed doors as punishment for inappropriate conduct toward Lyon on the part of Saint-Etienne fans. All was not smooth sailing; after fans tried to force themselves into the stadium, the game had to be briefly halted during the first half, and restarted after police removed the fans.