PARIS (AP) — A clinical Monaco side consolidated second place in the French league by defeating Nantes 3-1 on Sunday to restore its six-point lead over Lille.
Colombia midfielder James Rodriguez scored with a low curling shot from the edge of the box in the 18th minute and leftback Andrea Raggi doubled the lead by heading home a corner in the 72nd. Rodriguez made it 3-0 with a penalty in the 76th before Nantes midfielder Alejandro Bedoya scored a consolation goal in the 78th.
"Monaco must suffer and fight since the start of the season to get results," Monaco coach Claudio Ranieri said. "We have a six-point lead, that's good, but we must keep going because the next games will be tough."
Monaco trails leader Paris Saint-Germain by 13 points with just six rounds left.
Saint-Etienne lost ground in the race for a Champions League spot by drawing at home with mid-table Nice 1-1, while Lyon kept its hopes for a European spot alive by edging relegation-threatened Valenciennes 2-1.
Monaco broke the deadlock when Dimitar Berbatov set up Rodriguez, who managed to curl a shot despite three defenders surrounding him. TV replays showed the goal should have been disallowed because Berbatov was in an offside position.
Nantes then created chances but lacked the finishing touch to level.
Monaco added a second goal just when Nantes enjoyed a good spell of domination as Raggi outjumped Lucas Deaux to head into the bottom corner. Four minutes later, Rodriguez scored from the penalty spot after Nantes goalkeeper Maxime Dupe brought down Fabinho.
Nantes was finally rewarded for its efforts when Bedoya headed a cross from Johan Audel into the top corner.