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Ben Yedder scores two as Monaco beats Clermont to move closer to Champions League

Monaco celebrates Monaco celebrates - Getty Images

PARIS (AP) — Wissam Ben Yedder scored twice to approach 100 league goals for Monaco as the Principality side beat rock-bottom Clermont 4-1 and moved even closer to qualifying directly for the Champions League on Saturday.

Second-place Monaco is four points ahead of third-place Brest after the Brittany-based side’s 0-0 home draw against Nantes.

The top three qualify automatically for the Champions League with the side finishing in fourth spot — currently Lille — going into the qualifying rounds. Lille hosts Lyon on Monday, after which there will be two rounds of matches remaining.

Monaco is in pole position for a direct spot in the Champions League, 20 years after losing in the final to José Mourinho's Porto.

Ben Yedder's second-half brace took him onto 15 league goals this season and made it seven in five career games against Clermont.

It followed his two goals last weekend against Lyon, and took the 33-year-old sharpshooter onto 97 league goals since joining five years ago. He also had goal against Clermont ruled out for a narrow offside following a video review, having had a hat-trick goal ruled out by VAR against Lyon.

Ben Yedder is looking back to his best and could be in contention for a place in France's squad for the June 14-July 14 European Championship. Coach Didier Deschamps names his squad on May 16.

Japan forward Takumi Minamino set up both of Ben Yedder's goals, having put his side ahead in the 16th minute with a curler into the top right corner. Moments after Austria midfielder Muhammed Cham equalized for Clermont, Switzerland forward Breel Embolo grabbed his first of the season to make it 2-1 in the 37th, with the irrepressible Ben Yedder setting him up.

Brest's chances of winning took a blow when midfielder Pierre-Lees Melou and winger Romain Del Castillo — the club's two best players this season — went off injured in the first half.

Nantes striker Matthis Abline looked sharp but missed two good chances before the break.

The match was played in a good spirit. Referee Clément Turpin shook Lees-Melou's hand and consoled him before he limped off. At the final whistle, Nantes coach Antoine Kombouaré hugged Brest counterpart Eric Roy and they chatted at length following the game, before kissing each other on the cheek to say goodbye.

Also Saturday, Moroccan midfielder Yassine Kechta scored twice and Ghana veteran Andre Ayew added a late third as Le Havre beat Strasbourg 3-1 to boost its chances of staying up.

Le Havre, which drew 3-3 at Paris Saint-Germain last weekend, is in 15th place, one point behind Nantes but three clear of Metz in 16th spot for the promotion-relegation playoff spot.

Metz lost 3-2 at home to seventh-place Rennes in Saturday's other game, with striker Arnaud Kalimuendo grabbing the winner in stoppage time.

Georgia midfielder Georges Mikautadze put Metz ahead early on with a brilliant lob from the right edge of the penalty area, but then got red-carded for barging into Kalimuendo moments after he scored.

Record 12-time French champion PSG is not playing this weekend because it is involved in the Champions League semifinals, while Europa League semifinalist Marseille is also exempt ahead of the second legs next week.

PSG lost 1-0 at Borussia Dortmund and Marseille drew 1-1 at home to Atalanta earlier this week.


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