Monaco scrape 1-0 win to close the gap on PSG

Monaco's Emmanuel Riviere, pictured above, scored the winner against Ajaccio on Sunday to lift his team into second place. Here's a round-up of the weekend's action including a resounding victory for PSG and a defeat for Marseille that prompted the sacking of their coach.

Monaco scrape 1-0 win to close the gap on PSG
Monaco's Emmanuel Riviere scores against Ajaccio on Sunday to push his side into second place behind PSG. Photo: Valery Hache/AFP

Emmanuel Riviere scored his eighth goal of the season to give Monaco a 1-0 win over 10-man Ajaccio on Sunday and cut the gap on Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain to two points.

Riviere struck in the 75th minute as Monaco replaced Lille, who had lost 1-0 at Bordeaux earlier in the day, in second spot.

PSG stayed top on Saturday with a 5-0 demolition of rock-bottom Sochaux.

"The matches are always complicated and difficult," said Monaco coach Claudio Ranieri.

"Ajaccio played very deep but I saw that we had a desire to win. I am satisfied with three points."

With top scorer Radamel Falcao out of action with a thigh strain for a third successive match, Monaco's scoring onus once again fell on the shoulders of his Colombian compatriot James Rodriguez who had netted twice in his last two games.

But it was Anthony Martial who had the first shot on target after 16 minutes with the teenager's fierce drive well-saved by Ajaccio's Mexican goalkeeper Francisco Ochoa.

Ivory Coast striker Gadji Celi Carmen Junior had Ajaccio's first attempt on goal after 30 minutes, but Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic saved well.

Martial again came close early in the second half but a diving header went just wide.

Ajaccio's task became even tougher just after the hour mark when Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi was red-carded for a foul on Rodriguez.

Once Riviere had grabbed the deserved lead, Monaco twice came close to increasing their lead with Rodriguez and Portuguese international Joao Moutinho both denied by the woodwork from free-kicks.

Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama's run of not conceding a goal ended after 1,062 minutes on Sunday with an own goal by Lille team-mate Simon Kjaer in the clash with Bordeaux.

The Danish defender deflected a harmless looking shot by Bordeaux's Landry N'Guemo which tantalizingly hit the post before entering the net in the 28th minute.

It was the first time Enyeama had had to pick the ball out of his net since September 15th in the 2-0 defeat by Nice.

It also proved to be the only goal of the game.

Enyeama had been closing in on the overall Ligue 1 record of 1176 minutes held by Gaetan Huard for Bordeaux during the 1992-93 campaign

On Saturday, Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice and created two goals as PSG routed Sochaux.

The big Swede took his league goals tally to 13 thanks to an all-round masterclass which helped PSG quickly recover from their midweek loss to Evian in what was their first defeat of the season.

That setback ended PSG's 36-match undefeated run and it was Sochaux who were cast in the role of fall guys on Saturday.

Ibrahimovic scored twice in the last five minutes after Thiago Silva, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani, with his 11th of the season, had also hit the target.

PSG coach Laurent Blanc praised the tireless workload of Ibrahimovic and Cavani

"They play a lot but they are the major players in our team," said Blanc.

"All big clubs need their most important players. There are just two more matches until the winter break and the league is our objective as we have already done our work in the Champions League (PSG are certain of a last 16 place).

"I will try to put together the best team possible to take the points in these two league games.

Earlier Saturday, flagging Marseille sacked manager Elie Baup, the dismissal coming at the end of a week when the south coast club suffered two successive Ligue 1 defeats.

The Velodrome club's sporting director Jose Anigo, a former manager, will assume temporary control up to the French league's winter break.

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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.”