Nice edges Metz to stay unbeaten in French league
PARIS (AP) — Ismail Jakobs scored a goal and had an assist as Monaco beat Reims 3-1 to keep the top spot in the French league on Saturday.
Monaco moved one point clear of second-place Nice, which edged Metz 1-0 with a goal from Hicham Boudaoui.
Jakobs, a Senegal international, gave Monaco the lead with a first-time effort in the 42nd minute after the Reims defense poorly cleared a cross from Krepin Diatta.
Folarin Balogun doubled the lead with a powerful strike from a tight angle in the 46th. The United States striker refused to celebrate the goal against his former team. Reims supporters applauded Balogun when he came off in the 81st.
France international Wissam Ben Yedder made it 3-0 for the most prolific attack in the league by heading home a cross from Jakobs in the 49th.
“We had a little stat in mind, I think that unsettled us a bit,” Monaco midfielder Youssouf Fofana told Canal Plus television. “We knew that Reims scored a lot in the first 15 minutes and the next 15. We were too defensively focused. We didn’t manage to attack and take our chances. We played with more freedom after halftime. We played our game and managed to make the difference.”
Fourth-place Reims scored a consolation goal with a penalty from Teddy Teuma in the 58th after Monaco defender Chrislain Matsima had clumsily brought down Marshall Munetsi.
Monaco was forced on the back foot in the first half because of Reims’ high-octane style of play. Reims even had the first chance of the game in the 11th when Keito Nakamura was played clean through on goal, but goalkeeper Philipp Kohn denied the Japan winger.
Monaco was under pressure after Nice took the provisional lead earlier Saturday. Nice is one of only two teams still unbeaten in the league, along with Rennes.
Algeria midfielder Boudaoui converted a low cross from Melvin Bard in the 14th and also created a chance for Terem Moffi, who was denied by Metz goalkeeper Alexandre Oukidja in the 58th.
Nice targeted the right side of the Metz defense. Khephren Thuram threatened in the fourth minute with a cross-shot that bounced off the bar. Jeremie Boga cut inside to fire straight at Oukidja in the 30th.
The visitors lived up to their reputation as the tightest defense in the league by keeping a fifth clean sheet in their last six games.
Nice goalkeeper Marcin Bulka saved long-range efforts from Oscar Estupinan in the 28th and Fali Cande in stoppage time. Youssouf Ndayishimiye rescued Bulka in the 38th by blocking a goalbound volley from Metz leftback Matthieu Udol.
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