Monaco show champions' grit to beat Lyon
Ten-man AS Monaco came back from two goals down to triumph 3-2 at home to Olympique Lyonnais thanks to Rony Lopes' 89th-minute winner on Sunday, and steal a march on their rivals in the race for a podium place.
AS Monaco 3-2 Olympique Lyonnais
After seeing Olympique de Marseille move three points clear in second place with their 6-3 win over FC Metz on Friday, both teams knew the ante had been raised, and that defeat could prove decisive in the race for a top-three finish come the season's end.
Lyon had won both the duo's meetings this season 3-2, including the recent Coupe de France tie, and the visitors quickly seized the initiative. Mariano Diaz audaciously put the seven-time French champions in front, smashing a shot past Danijel Subasic from all of 30 metres (12'). It was a dramatic way for the summer signing from Real Madrid to claim his 14th league goal of the season.
Injured, Subasic then had to make way for Seydou Sy (15'), and the reigning Ligue 1 Conforama champions' evening quickly got worse. Memphis Depay found Ferland Mendy wide on the left, and his cross was touched home by Bertrand Traoré at the near post (28').
Monaco roar back
Had OL been able to hold onto their advantage for some time, the game - and the precious three points - would surely have gone their way, but within eight minutes, Monaco were level.
Keita Baldé was signed from Lazio with a burgeoning reputation, and the Senegal international showed why as he blasted past both Hossem Aouar and Tanguy Ndombélé before firing beyond Anthony Lopes (31').
Mendy's needless tug on Kamil Glik when Rony Lopes' free-kick came into the box then gave Radamel Falcao the chance to level - the Colombia international rattled in his 17th goal of the season at the second time of asking after Lopes had parried his initial spot-kick (36').
Lopes the hero
Just when they seemed to have turned things round, Monaco suffered another setback as Baldé was sent off for a second bookable offence in the space of four minutes with the break within sight (44'), leaving coach Leonardo Jardim with some reorganising to do.
Falco's injury-enforced withdrawal ten minutes into the second half was another major blow to the hosts, but they enjoyed the better of the chances with Rony Lopes (69') and Youri Tielemans (73') both going close.
They appeared to have to settle for a point until Marcelo's poor clearance dropped to Falcao's replacement, Stevan Jovetic, a minute from time. The Montegrin found Rony Lopes - his low shot was too good for his namesake in the Lyon goal as the champions moved into third place, a point behind OM.
THE PLAYER: Keita Baldé
It was an eventful 44 minutes on the Stade Louis II pitch for Baldé, but the 22-year-old gave a glimpse of the immense talent Monaco were happy to invest heavily in last summer. He might have had more than his seventh league goal of the season had he played longer.
THE STAT: 6
Mariano has now scored six league goals from outside the box this season, the most of any player in Europe's five major championships.