PARIS — In Radamel Falcao’s absence, his replacement Keita Balde scored for defending champion Monaco to beat Bordeaux 2-0 in the French league on Saturday.
Balde scored in the second half, and midfielder Thomas Lemar added the second with a fine run and shot through goalkeeper Benoit Costil’s legs eight minutes later.
The win kept second-placed Monaco within four points of unbeaten league leader Paris Saint-Germain.
Falcao, the league top scorer with 13, was missing due to muscle fatigue.
Balde had a quiet game but took his first chance well. Brazilian defender Jorge nicked the ball off countryman Malcom in midfield and following his cross from the left wing, midfielder Joao Moutinho expertly headed the ball across the penalty area into Balde’s direction, and he took a touch before slotting it into the bottom of the net.
“It’s a good win with the players we had available,” Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim said. “Keita Balde’s getting better every day. We can use him up front or on the wing. The runs from deep he makes are very important.”
The Senegal forward, who joined in the offseason from Lazio, also scored last weekend when playing alongside Falcao.
“It was a difficult match, but when you get a chance you must take it,” Balde said. “It’s hard when you don’t have a player like Falcao. The main thing is to give the team a helping hand.”
PSG coasted past Nice 3-0 on Friday.
Nantes coach Claudio Ranieri’s eight-game unbeaten run came to end, losing at Dijon 1-0.
Center forward Julio Tavares scored the winner in the first half, and Nantes missed late chances to equalize.
Forward Ronny Rodelin scored the winner in the first half as Normandy side Caen beat Troyes 1-0.
Elsewhere, it was Montpellier 0, Rennes 1; Guingamp 1, Amiens 1, and Strasbourg 2, Angers 2.
In Sunday’s games, Marseille looks to make it six games unbeaten when it travels to struggling Lille. Also, Lyon hosts Metz and Toulouse faces Saint-Etienne.