Monaco 3 Nice 0: Falcao at the double in crucial title clash
Radamel Falcao scored a double to help Monaco strike a big blow in the Ligue 1 title race with a 3-0 win over Nice in Saturday's top-of-the-table clash at the Stade Louis II.
Valere Germain - who spent last season on loan at Nice - opened the scoring early in the second half with a strong header from close range, before Falcao's brace sealed a vital win.
Both sides went into the game level on 49 points - with Monaco holding the edge on goal difference - after Bernardo Silva salvaged a point for Leonardo Jardim's men against holders Paris Saint-Germain last week with his stoppage-time equaliser.
It was all Monaco in the opening 45 minutes and Silva came close to opening the scoring on two occasions, goalkeeper Yoan Cardinale thwarting the Portugal international each time.
There was no denying the leaders after the break, though, as Germain and Falcao struck to make amends for the 4-0 defeat from the reverse fixture back in September.
Monaco's victory puts them at least temporarily six points clear of PSG, who face Dijon later on Saturday.
The hosts started the game with attacking intentions and had their first chance when Dante failed to properly clear Benjamin Mendy's cross from the left in the 10th minute, Silva picking up the loose ball on the edge of the area and forcing Cardinale into a low save.
A poor ball from Malang Sarr allowed Falcao to set up Silva on the right-hand side of the area, but Cardinale again pulled off a fine stop.
Nice struggled to make much of an impact going forward as Monaco did well to keep Mario Balotelli quiet, with Valentin Eysseric's wayward opportunistic volley from outside the box the visitors' only noteworthy attempt in the opening 45 minutes.
1 - Nice have attempted only 1 shot (none on target) in the 1st half against Monaco, they have not done worst in L1 this season. Quiet.-- OptaJean (@OptaJean) February 4, 2017
Monaco got the goal they deserved in the 47th minute as Mendy sent in a pinpoint left-wing cross after yet another impressive run and the unmarked Germain had little trouble beating Cardinale from close range with a sublime header.
Things went from bad to worse for Nice from then on and Falcao doubled Monaco's lead on the hour mark.
Mendy was once more at the heart of it with a fine low delivery and the Colombia international fired home from just yards out for his 13th league goal of the season.
There was still more to come from the home side, though, and Falcao piled even more misery on Nice in the 81st minute when he beat Cardinale with a composed finish into the bottom-right corner after being set up by Thomas Lemar for Monaco's 100th goal of the season in all competitions.
Nice almost added a consolation late on as Valentin Eysseric struck the post, but the season's surprise package will now have to regroup after seeing their title aspirations suffer a significant blow.
Monaco have scored 100 goals in all comps this season, no team have scored more among the Top 5 European Leagues. Princes. pic.twitter.com/SPzckihnMX-- OptaJean (@OptaJean) February 4, 2017