Monaco loses 2-1 to Lorient in league opener
PARIS (AP) — Monaco got its title bid off to a stuttering start by losing 2-1 to Lorient in its French league opener on Sunday.
Lorient substitute Valentin Lavigne scored the winning goal with a low strike in the 87th minute.
Vincent Aboubakar initially put Lorient ahead with a penalty in the ninth minute, but Monaco striker Radamel Falcao also converted a spot kick to level in the 78th.
Monaco was down to 10 men in the 68th when Ricardo Carvalho picked up a second yellow card for fouling Lorient substitute Walid Mesloub.
“There was sometimes too much space between the lines, especially between the midfielders and the forwards,” Monaco midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia said. “It’s just the beginning of the season. We’ll do anything to win next week.”
A depleted Lyon beat Rennes 2-0 earlier Sunday.
Lorient capitalized on its first scoring chance when Aboubakar beat the offside trap and cut inside Monaco center back Aymen Abdennour, who tripped him. The Cameroon forward sent goalkeeper Danijel Subasic the wrong way to open the scoring.
Monaco troubled the visitors by finding space on the left flank. But Lorient goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte stopped a header from striker Dimitar Berbatov in the 26th and an effort from leftback Layvin Kurzawa in the 30th.
The visitors also proved shaky on set pieces as Lorient centerback Yoann Wachter nearly scored an own goal by diverting a corner onto the post in the 43rd.
Lorient was under siege, but Lecomte denied winger Yannick Ferreira Carrasco in the 54th and tipped a header from Berbatov around the post in the 71st.
Falcao replaced Lucas Ocampos in the 59th and equalized by firing his penalty into the top corner after Lorient center back Lamine Kone brought down Berbatov.
In the closing minutes, Lorient took advantage of its numerical superiority to finish off a counterattack. Lavigne collected a throughball from Raffidine Abdullah to beat Subasic.
“Our project is to build a team that plays with a high defensive line,” Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim said. “We still hope to sign a defender. This team is not used to playing with a high defensive line.”
Monaco sold James Rodriguez, the top scorer at the World Cup in Brazil, to Real Madrid but has not made any major signing in the summer transfer window yet. Last season’s runner-up also lost forward Emmanuel Riviere to Newcastle and defender Eric Abidal to Olympiakos.
At Stade Gerland, Lyon substitute Steed Malbranque scored with a curling shot in the 64th minute and striker Alexandre Lacazette converted a penalty in the 73rd.
Lyon played without Clement Grenier, Yoann Gourcuff, Gueida Fofana, Mouhamadou Dabo, Milan Bisevac and Henri Bedimo, all injured, while Bakary Kone was suspended.
“We eroded Rennes’ physical potential in the first half by dominating possession and making them run,” Lyon coach Hubert Fournier said. “We just needed to be patient and more accurate technically to convert our numerous chances.”
On Saturday, it was: Bastia 3, Marseille 3; Evian 0, Caen 3; Guingamp 0, Saint-Etienne 2; Lille 0, Metz 0; Montpellier 0, Bordeaux 1; Nantes 1, Lens 0; and Nice 3, Toulouse 2.
Defending champion Paris Saint-Germain drew 2-2 with Reims on Friday.