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Falcao fires Monaco to brink of French title

Monaco’s forward Radamel Falcao celebrates after scoring a goal against Lille at the Louis II Stadium in Monaco on May 14, 2017 © AFP / Yann COATSALIOU

PARIS, France, May 15Radamel Falcao scored twice as Monaco strode to within a point of the Ligue 1 title after Sunday’s 4-0 home win over Lille left them on the verge of dethroning Paris Saint-Germain.

The Colombian striker netted either side of a Bernardo Silva goal before Junior Alonso bundled into his own net as Monaco reeled off a 10th straight league victory, although PSG’s 5-0 rout of Saint-Etienne prevented Leonardo Jardim’s side from officially securing the title.

Monaco lead the reigning champions by three points — and have a game in hand against Saint-Etienne on Wednesday — ahead of next weekend’s final round of matches, but their vastly superior goal difference all but guarantees them an eighth French league crown.

“Before the match we needed four points. Now we need just one,” said Jardim, with the Portuguese leaving nothing to chance. “We’ll keep working hard until the end. On Wednesday we need to pick up the points to win the title.

“We had to be careful (against Lille) and we were. Paris scored five goals and aren’t giving up. I’m asking for one final effort on Wednesday.”

Falcao calmed any lingering nerves by handing Monaco the perfect start at the Stade Louis II when he headed in unmarked from Thomas Lemar’s left-wing cross after just six minutes.

Kylian Mbappe tormented the Lille defence as he wriggled past Franck Beria to set up Silva for a simple tap-in on the stroke of half-time, with the teenager teeing up Falcao for his second on 69 minutes.

Junior Alonso then turned a Lemar cross beyond Lille goalkeeper Mike Maignan late on as Monaco put their midweek Champions League semi-final defeat to Juventus behind them in convincing fashion.

Edinson Cavani climbed up to 35 league goals this term with a brace as PSG demolished Saint-Etienne, ending the hosts’ outside shot of qualifying for the Europa League.

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– ‘Not enough this year’ –

Lucas also scored twice for Unai Emery’s men while Julian Draxler added a fifth, but the capital club’s four-year reign in France is effectively over with just next Saturday’s visit of Caen to come.

Paris Saint-Germain’s midfielder Lucas (R) is congratuled by teamat forward Edinson Cavani after scoring a goal on May 14, 2017 © AFP / PHILIPPE DESMAZES

“Monaco have had a great season but they’re not yet mathematically champions,” said Emery, although his side’s goal difference of plus-56 trails well behind Monaco’s 73.

“Congratulations to Monaco for the work they’ve done. This competition is good for French football,” he added. “With the number of points we have we could have been champions, but it’s not enough this year with the competition from Monaco.”

Nice suffered a first home defeat of the campaign as goals from Angers skipper Cheikh Ndoye and Karl Toko Ekambi secured a 2-0 victory at the Allianz Riviera, while Marseille remain in control of their European destiny following a 1-1 draw at Bordeaux.

Uruguay international Diego Rolan grabbed an early opener for Bordeaux, but Bafetimbi Gomis hit his 19th goal of the season to keep fifth-place Marseille a point ahead of the home side.

Lyon bounced back from the pain of Thursday’s agonising Europa League last-four exit against Ajax with a 3-1 triumph at Montpellier, Alexandre Lacazette netting twice after Nabil Fekir’s opening goal.

Dijon pulled clear of the relegation play-off place with a 2-0 win over Nancy, who dropped to the foot of the table following Bastia’s 2-0 victory over fellow strugglers Lorient.

Caen also remain in a relegation scrap as a 1-0 home defeat to Rennes left them just a point clear of the bottom three.

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