Paris (AFP) – Radamel Falcao scored a second-half brace as Monaco defeated Nice 3-0 on Saturday to carve open a three-point lead ahead of their Cote d’Azur rivals at the top of Ligue 1.

Valere Germain headed in the opening goal on 47 minutes at the Stade Louis II before Falcao turned in Monaco’s second with an hour gone.

The Colombian stroked home a third for the hosts nine minutes from time as Monaco avenged a 4-0 thrashing from the reverse fixture in September.

Nice suffered just their second loss of the season, while reigning champions Paris Saint-Germain climbed above them into second on goal difference after winning 3-1 at Dijon.

“We’re ahead but there are still a lot of matches left. I think the team that wins the title will be the one that picks up the most points against teams outside the top five,” said Jardim.

“Our three-point advantage is nothing. It’s good but I told the players to be careful of something that could come along and derail us.”

Monaco boss Jardim recalled a host of internationals rested for Wednesday’s 5-4 extra-time win over third-tier Chambly in the last 32 of the French Cup, with Falcao, Bernardo Silva and Danijel Subasic all returning to the line-up.

Nice had conceded a league-low 15 goals before arriving in Monaco and goalkeeper Yoan Cardinale was well protected in a quiet first half, turning behind a firm strike from Germain in a rare chance of note.

But Monaco, who are averaging a Europe-leading three goals a game this term, punished Nice for slack defending with just two minutes gone in the second half.

Germain was left unmarked as Benjamin Mendy whipped in a teasing cross from the left and the Frenchman planted a header beyond a Cardinale for his eighth goal of the campaign.

Monaco doubled their lead in similar circumstances. The ball was again worked out to Mendy on the left flank, this time the full-back crossed low for Falcao to steer into the roof of the net.

Falcao rounded out the victory by slotting into the far corner from Thomas Lemar’s cut-back to move onto 14 goals, behind only Edinson Cavani (22) and Alexandre Lacazette (18) in Ligue 1 this season. 

In Dijon, PSG struck twice in the final 10 minutes through captain Thiago Silva and leading scorer Cavani to keep pace with Monaco.

Lucas rifled in at the second attempt to put Unai Emery’s men ahead on 29 minutes at the Stade Gaston Gerard, but Dijon were level just two minutes later when Julio Tavares buried a first-time shot past Alphonse Areola.

Silva bundled in from a corner on 81 minutes after Dijon keeper Baptiste Reynet made a fantastic save to tip Thiago Motta’s header onto the post, while Cavani grabbed his 22nd goal this term by getting a touch on substitute Goncalo Guedes’ goal-bound shot.

On Friday, Metz made it an unhappy return to Ligue 1 for Dimitri Payet as Marseille slumped to a 1-0 loss in the northeast. 

Rhone derby rivals Saint-Etienne and Lyon lock horns at the Stade Geoffroy Guichard on Sunday.