Falcao fires Monaco to victory


Radamel Falcao headed home his first competitive goal from open play since the start of the year to hand Monaco a much-needed 1-0 victory at Nantes. The Colombian, who has missed most of the year since suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury on January 22, showed he was back to his predatory best to give Les Rouges their first win of the season at the third time of asking. Falcao's side were lucky to hold out for the victory, with Serge Gakpe missing a first-half penalty and Kian Hansen hitting the bar late on for the hosts, but Monaco held firm to take a vital three points at the Stade de la Beaujoire. Before the season started Monaco had been tipped by many to push Paris St Germain close for the Ligue 1 title, but things did not start well for new boss Leonardo Jardim. A 2-1 opening-day defeat to Lorient, which saw Falcao score from the spot, was followed by a 4-1 hammering at the hands of Bordeaux last week to leave people already starting to ask questions of Jardim, who took over from Claudio Ranieri this summer. It looked like it would be another long day for the former Sporting Lisbon boss when Yacine Bammou was awarded a penalty after a foul by Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic after 24 minutes. Subasic was also booked, but he managed to turn from villain to hero by guessing right and saving Gakpe's spot-kick. Former Monaco striker Gakpe was again thwarted by Subasic just after the half-hour mark, with the 29-year-old keeper making an excellent save to deny his curled free-kick from 25 yards. On the stroke of half-time, though, there was finally some relief for Jardim as Falcao ghosted in at the far post to cushion a close-range header past Nantes keeper Maxime Dupe without even breaking stride. Les Rouges almost made it two shortly after the interval, with Lucas Ocampos forcing Dupe into an awkward stop with a powerful right-footed drive, but after that it was all Nantes again. Alejandro Bedoya went close twice, only to be denied by Subasic on both occasions, while Bammou shot agonisingly wide after being put through by Jordan Veretout with 10 minutes remaining. Hansen had the best chance to equalise in the 85th minute, connecting with Vincent Bessat's corner at the far post but he could only hit the bar as Nantes lost for the first time this season.