Falcao comes off the bench to help Monaco beat Nantes 3-1
PARIS (AP) — Radamel Falcao came off the bench to score and set up another goal as Monaco opened its French league campaign with a 3-1 win at Nantes on Saturday.
A dull match quickly improved when Falcao came on midway through the second half. The veteran Colombia striker immediately started combining well with Montenegro forward Stevan Jovetic, who set up a headed goal for attacking midfielder Rony Lopes with a deflected cross in the 69th minute.
With 10 minutes left, Falcao gathered a high ball near halfway and intelligently flicked the ball over his head into the path of Jovetic, who scored with a cool finish.
Three minutes later, Falcao was celebrating after tapping in Samuel Grandsir’s low cross from the right, after Grandsir was freed by Jovetic’s measured pass inside the penalty area.
“Falcao is an important player for us, it’s easier when you have players of his quality,” Lopes said. “We didn’t play well in the first half.”
Nantes salvaged some pride through striker Emiliano Sala’s goal in the second minute of injury time.
In Friday’s season-opening match, attacking midfielder Dimitri Payet scored twice as Marseille beat Toulouse 4-0.
Patrick Vieira’s first match in charge of Nice ended in a 1-0 home defeat to Reims.
The former France and Arsenal midfielder was not helped by the fact he had no recognized striker, with Mario Balotelli — last season’s top scorer — suspended and Alassane Plea sold during the offseason.
That left Vieira with midfielder Bassem Srarfi as a makeshift forward — and the Tunisia international was ineffective.
Midfield counterpart Moussa Doumbia scored for Reims after just three minutes.
Nimes celebrated its first match in the top flight since 1993 with a dramatic 4-3 win at Angers.
Nicknamed The Crocodiles, Nimes struck first in the fifth minute. It then trailed 3-1 before pulling a goal back in the 77th through striker Clement Depres.
Two minutes later, Nimes had defender Florian Miguel sent off for a second yellow card. But despite being a player down, Nimes scored twice in the last four minutes with Depres netting an 88th-minute winner.
Lille relied heavily on Nicolas Pepe’s goals to narrowly avoid relegation last season, and the striker was on target again as Lille beat Rennes 3-1 at home.
Forward Whabi Khazri scored on his Saint-Etienne debut in a 2-1 home win against Guingamp, with Marcus Thuram — son of former France defender Lilian Thuram — scoring for the visitors.
Montpellier took an early lead but succumbed to a 2-1 home defeat to Dijon, with defender Senou Coulibaly grabbing an injury-time winner.
Defending champion Paris Saint-Germain is at home to Caen on Sunday, when Lyon hosts Amiens and Bordeaux faces Strasbourg.
Jerome Pugmire is at www.twitter.com/jeromepugmire