10-man Monaco edge Montpellier to build lead

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10-man Monaco edge Montpellier to build lead

PARIS (AFP) – Teenage striker Kylian Mbappe scored Monaco s winner in a 2-1 victory at Montpellier on Tuesday (Feb 7) to stretch their lead at the top of Ligue 1 to six points.

Poland international Kamil Glik s brave header gave Monaco a 16th-minute lead and 18-year-old Mbappe struck on the counter-attack to double their advantage five minutes later.

Veteran Brazilian centre-back Vitorino Hilton pulled a goal back early in the second half, but Monaco held on despite the late dismissal of Jemerson for a second booking.

Reigning champions Paris Saint-Germain host Lille at the Parc des Princes later, while third-placed Nice are at home to Saint-Etienne on Wednesday.

“I congratulated the players, it s good to be able to weather the storm and keep a lead intact,” said Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim.

“You never win every game in football and that was the time to defend the lead, to show that attitude. It s important for a team to have this mentality, lots of matches are lost in the last 10 minutes.”

Despite Montpellier hovering just three points above the relegation zone, Monaco were fully aware of the dangers facing them at the Stade de la Mosson where PSG were thrashed 3-0 in December.

Leonardo Jardim s side grabbed the opening goal on the quarter-hour as Glik courageously got on the end of Thomas Lemar s free-kick, the Polish defender clobbered by Montpellier goalkeeper Geoffrey Jourdren as he headed in his fourth league goal of the season.

A lightning-quick break delivered Monaco s second goal on 21 minutes. The visitors won back possession deep in their own half before Benjamin Mendy released Mbappe, who slotted coolly through the legs of Jourdren.

Benin international Steve Mounie dragged just wide as Montpellier sought to work their way back into the contest.

Hilton, 39, then became the oldest player this century to score in France s top flight when he turned in a corner two minutes into the second half to give Montpellier renewed hope.

Monaco saw Valere Germain forced off with a calf injury while France full-back Djibril Sidibe added to their injury concerns ahead of their Champions League last 16 showdown with Manchester City in a fortnight.

Montpellier ramped up the pressure as Monaco were reduced to 10 men when Jemerson brought down Ryad Boudebouz, but Danijel Subasic turned away a stinging shot from Jerome Roussillon while Souleymare Camara s last-gasp header clipped the crossbar.

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