Falcao double keeps Monaco top of the league

Colombian striker Radamel Falcao scored twice for Monaco against Bastia on Wednesday to propel his team back to the top of Ligue 1. PSG had briefly held top spot after a scrappy 1-0 over Valenciennes.

Falcao double keeps Monaco top of the league
Monaco's Colombian striker Radamel Falcao celebrates after scoring twice against Bastia to propel his team back to the top of Ligue1. Photo: Valery Hache/AFP

Ligue 1 leaders Monaco extended their best start to a Ligue 1 campaign with a 3-0 victory at home to Bastia on Wednesday, while Paris Saint-Germain kept pace with a 1-0 win at Valenciennes.

Emmanuel Riviere opened the scoring for the hosts before league-leading scorer Radamel Falcao netted twice to maintain Monaco's unbeaten record and return Claudio Ranieri's side to the top of the table after PSG had temporarily gone first.

A fifth win in seven games for the principality outfit moved them onto 17 points, two ahead of defending champions PSG, with Marseille one point further back.

"I'm very happy with the match," said Ranieri.

"The first 25 minutes weren't that smooth. But it was very important after the Paris match (a 1-1 draw last Sunday) to earn three points.

"It's a very good start to the season. The results give us tranquility, confidence and calmness," added the Italian.

"Are we sending a signal to the others? No, it's too early in the season."

Both goalkeepers were tested early at the Stade Louis II with Wahbi Khazri drawing a pair of saves from Monaco custodian Danijel Subasic, while Bastia's Mickael Landreau had to be at his best to keep out Riviere and Layvin Kurzawa.

However, Landreau's resistance was broken on 39 minutes as James Rodriguez played in Riviere who held off Francois-Joseph Modesto before steering a shot just inside the near post for his sixth goal of the season.

Falcao then scored for the fourth straight game two minutes later as he ran onto Joao Moutinho's through ball before firing past Landreau. 

The Colombian added his second of the evening a minute from the end, taking his tally to a Ligue 1 best seven goals, as he pounced on Yannick Ferreira Carrasco's blocked effort to steer beyond a helpless Landreau.

Earlier, PSG's record signing Edinson Cavani netted the only goal at the Stade du Hainaut in first-half stoppage time as Laurent Blanc's side won 1-0 away to struggling Valenciennes.

"We burned a lot of energy in the Monaco match and only had three days to recover. It was a difficult match in all senses," said PSG coach Blanc.

"But the important thing is to have taken the three points because we'll have plenty of matches like that over the course of the season."

Javier Pastore twice went close in the opening stages but both 'keepers were relatively untroubled in a quiet first 45 minutes before Cavani struck two minutes into first-half stoppage.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who on Tuesday signed a contract extension tying him to the club until 2016, carried the ball from well inside his own half before picking out the angled run of Cavani, who shot low first time across Nicolas Penneteau into the far corner.

The hosts responded after the break with Marco Verratti forced to clear off the line from a Lindsay Rose header.

Anthony Le Tallec then had Salvatore Sirigu scrambling across his line as his free-kick whistled just wide of the post.

The former Liverpool striker, though, missed an excellent chance to haul the home side level late on as Mathieu Dossevi's effort was deflected into his path but Le Tallec failed to make any contact from six yards out as PSG held on for a narrow win.

Defeat for Valenciennes extended the northerners' losing streak to six, leaving them second from bottom on just three points.

Elsewhere, goals from Salim Arrache and Aboubacar Demba Camara gave Fabrizio Ravanelli's Ajaccio their first victory of the season as they recorded a 2-1 win at home to Lyon.

Martin Braithwaite's 72nd-minute winner handed Toulouse a 1-0 win over Lorient, while promoted Guingamp routed basement club Sochaux 5-1, Nantes beat Nice 2-0 and Bordeaux drew 0-0 with Reims.

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‘Not football’s job’ to combat homophobia: French football chief

The head of French football has pulled away from a hardline stance against homophobic chanting and banners in stadiums on Friday, saying that "too many matches" have been stopped due to anti-gay abuse.

'Not football's job' to combat homophobia: French football chief

Noel Le Graet, president of the French Football Federation (FFF), said that the FFF would not instruct referees to stop matches except in cases when a “whole stadium” was guilty of homophobic chanting.

“I think we're stopping too many matches! That makes certain government ministers happy, but it bothers me. Football can't be taken hostage by vulgarity,” said Le Graet in an interview with newspaper Ouest-France.

Several matches have been temporarily halted in France this season after the French football League (LFP) introduced over the summer plans to tackle fan homophobia during matches, including allowing referees to stop games.

“Matches have been stopped when they shouldn't have been,” Le Graet continued.

“We will stop them if there is consistent homophobic abuse from the whole ground, but if among 30,000 people there are 2,000 imbeciles I don't see why the other 28,000 should be punished.”

Le Graet referred to France's sports minister Roxana Maracineanu, who in April launched the appeal for matches to be stopped in the event of homophobic abuse, and equalities minister Marlene Schiappa.

Schiappa publicly praised referee Clement Turpin after he stopped Marseille's 2-1 win at Nice for over 10 minutes last month following sustained abusive chanting and banners from home fans, but Le Graet insisted that it wasn't football's job to combat homophobia.

Paris Saint-Germain's match at Metz two days later was also briefly halted for a banner unfurled by the hosts' supporters asking the French league (LFP) to allow them to aim homophobic chants at PSG.

“Did football invent homophobia? You can be a know-it-all when you have got much to say. But there are more important political issues,” he said.

“This crisis will resolve itself. We will work with club presidents, people who don't stick their oar in every morning, who don't want to just look good in front of the television cameras.”