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Monaco claim first Ligue 1 title in 17 years

Updated May 19, 2017 06:59am
MONACO players celebrate with the trophy at the end of the Ligue 1 match against St Etienne at Stade Louis II.—AFP
MONACO players celebrate with the trophy at the end of the Ligue 1 match against St Etienne at Stade Louis II.—AFP

MONACO: Teenage star Kylian Mbappe helped Monaco secure their first Ligue 1 title in 17 years with his 15th goal of the season in Wednesday’s 2-0 victory at home to Saint-Etienne.

The 18-year-old raced clear of the visiting defence to nervelessly roll in the opening goal after 19 minutes at the Stade Louis II as Paris Saint-Germain’s four-year reign as French champions came to an end.

Valere Germain added a second with the final kick of the match.

“We can finally say we are champions. I’m very proud of this team, of these players. It’s a dream for me, I’m very happy,” Monaco captain Radamel Falcao told Canal+.

Leonardo Jardim’s side were effectively guaranteed the title after Sunday’s 4-0 win over Lille due to their vastly superior goal difference and needed just a point to secure an eighth league crown.

Monaco’s 11th straight victory bumped them up to 92 points, six ahead of PSG, and they can match the capital club’s single-season record of 30 wins in Saturday’s final game at Rennes.

Not since Claude Puel guided a squad featuring Fabien Barthez, David Trezeguet and Willy Sagnol to the 1999-2000 title had Monaco been crowned kings of France.

Saint-Etienne held Monaco to a 1-1 draw in October, but Christophe Galtier’s side arrived in the principality low on confidence after their 5-0 thrashing by PSG and decimated by injury.

‘Uncompromising’

Mbappe’s meteoric rise this season has seen him torment some of Europe’s leading clubs and it was hardly surprising the teenager made the crucial breakthrough after a cautious start.

Stephane Ruffier palmed away a Mbappe snapshot with the first real chance, but there was little he could do moments later when the striker latched onto Radamel Falcao’s threaded pass and calmly rounded the Saint-Etienne goalkeeper before slotting home.

Monaco were far from their free-flowing best which had seen them become just the fifth team to rack up over 100 goals in a French season, with Danijel Subasic forced to save from a Florentin Pogba header.

However Falcao came close to providing Monaco with added breathing space when his powerful header from a corner was superbly kept out by Ruffier.

Saint-Etienne youngster Arnaud Nordin charged through the left-hand side of the Monaco defence after setting off from inside his own half, but his final effort lacked the pace to trouble Subasic.

Jordan Veretout then skipped beyond Subasic following Henri Saivet’s through ball, but Poland international Kamil Glik recovered in time to deny the on-loan Aston Villa midfielder.

Germain, who was with the club in 2011 when Monaco were languishing at the foot of the second divison, should have sealed the victory on 74 minutes when Mbappe slid the ball across only for him to shin wide with Ruffier well out of the picture.

But he made amends deep into stoppage time as Thomas Lemar sprang a counter-attack that left Germain with the simplest of tap-ins to complete a memorable evening.

Points table after Wednesday’s match (played, won, drawn, lost, goals for, goals against, points):

Monaco 37 29 5 3 104 29 92 Paris SG 37 27 5 5 82 26 86 Nice 37 22 11 4 60 33 77 Lyon 37 21 3 13 74 45 66 Marseille 37 16 11 10 56 41 59 Bordeaux 37 15 13 9 52 42 58 Nantes 37 14 9 14 40 51 51 St-Etienne 37 12 14 11 40 39 50 Rennes 37 12 14 11 34 39 50 Guingamp 37 13 8 16 45 53 47 Toulouse 37 10 13 14 37 41 43 Lille 37 12 7 18 37 47 43 Angers 37 12 7 18 38 49 43 Metz 37 11 10 16 39 71 43 Montpellier 37 10 9 18 48 64 39 Dijon 37 8 12 17 46 58 36 Caen 37 10 6 21 35 64 36 Lorient 37 10 5 22 43 69 35 Bastia 37 8 10 19 29 53 34 Nancy 37 8 8 21 26 51 32

Note: 1st & 2nd: Automatic Champions League qualification 3rd: Champions League third qualifying round 4th & 5th: Europa League 18th: Relegation play-off 19 & 20th: Relegated—AFP

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2017