Monaco up to fifth after frantic Ligue 1 finish


Marseille (AFP) – Monaco snatched a 2-1 victory at Amiens on Saturday after Wissam Ben Yedder and Islam Slimani struck in a frantic finish to push the Principality team up to fifth in Ligue 1.

Earlier, Dimitri Payet helped Marseille maintain their grip on second place with the only goal in a 1-0 win over rock-bottom Toulouse.

In northern France, Monaco trailed to Serhou Guirassy’s first half goal created by a howler by Monaco goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte until Ben Yedder equalised with a superb volley in the 85th minute.

Three minutes into injury time, Cesc Fabregas supplied the corner for substitute Slimani to head in a dramatic winner that shot his side to within six points of the Champions League places.

“I’m happy. It was a very tricky match against a team that played well and made it difficult for us,” said Ben Yedder.

Monaco’s Spanish coach Robert Moreno will hope the goal helps the Algerian Slimani turn the page on a turbulent January when he expressed his desire to leave the club.

“He’s a great player, I said as much when I arrived at Monaco,” said 42-year-old Moreno.

“We have an incredible attack with some top-draw players. I’m very happy that he scored.”

– Payet inspires Marseille –

Former West Ham forward Payet proved the difference for Marseille as he struck from distance shortly after half-time at the Stade Velodrome to extend Marseille’s unbeaten run to 16 matches in all competitions.

Andre Villas-Boas’ side are still nine points behind leaders Paris Saint-Germain, who play Lyon at the Parc des Princes on Sunday.

“Today we needed a moment of inspiration, and Payet gave it to us,” said Villas-Boas.

Payet’s winner covered up an uncharacteristically subdued Marseille display in which relegation fodder Toulouse dominated for long stretches and could easily have levelled in the closing stages.

Marseille came into the match having beaten Saint-Etienne 2-0 midweek and a goalless draw last weekend.

“I think tiredness hit us, as well as a bit of anxiety,” Villas-Boas said.

Payet could have had a second late in the game but fired just wide after bursting through the Toulouse defence.

Veteran goalkeeper Steve Mandanda preserved Marseille’s lead with an impressive diving save from Belgian forward Aaron Leya Iseka’s shot in the 85th minute.

Marseille now have an eight-point lead over third-placed Rennes after they dropped points in a goalless draw with Brest.

Lille are just one point further back after they beat troubled club Angers 2-0 on Friday. Angers’ chairman Said Chabane was charged this week with sexual assault after several women made allegations.

Patrick Vieira’s Nice side slumped to a 3-1 defeat at home to Nimes despite scoring first but the club backed by chemicals giant INEOS are just two points behind Monaco despite a patchy restart since the winter break.

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