Home Football European Round-Up: Monaco In Crisis, Juve See Off Roma

European Round-Up: Monaco In Crisis, Juve See Off Roma

Mario Mandzukic scored the only goal for Juventus to dump further hurt on crisis club Roma and keep the champions unbeaten and on track for an eighth straight Italian league title.

The Croatian World Cup runner-up headed in the winner 34 minutes into the match in Turin to put Juventus back eight points clear of Napoli.

The defeat could have been harsher but for Roma goalkeeper Robin Olsen denying Cristiano Ronaldo, with Douglas Costa having a late goal ruled out following a video assistant referee check because of a foul in the build-up.

Serie A is holding a round of fixtures on December 26 and 29, before pausing for three weeks. Juve – who have only dropped points against Genoa – travel to Atalanta and host Sampdoria in their final two matches before the end of the year.

Roma, after finishing third last season, are now 25 points behind Juventus and drop to 10th after their eighth defeat in as many trips to the Allianz Stadium. They have won just twice in the league since the end of September.

Napoli are way behind Juve but consolidated second place when Raul Albiol headed his first goal of the season from a Dries Mertens corner against to beat struggling SPAL.

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In France, Kylian Mbappe grabbed the winner as Paris Saint-Germain beat Nantes 1-0 to go into the winter break unbeaten in Ligue 1, as Thierry Henry’s Monaco suffered defeat by rock-bottom Guingamp.

World Cup star Mbappe stole in at the far post in the 67th minute for his 13th league goal of the season, making him France’s top scorer with Neymar away on holidays in Brazil. PSG coach Thomas Tuchel can also go on holiday relaxed with his club on 47 points, as second-placed Lille, 13 points adrift, lost 2-1 at home to Toulouse.

Henry’s Monaco were dreadful and the former Arsenal striker spat on the ground after Nolan Roux of Guingamp made fools of the Monaco defence to make it 2-0.

“I’m not going to have a good holiday,” bemoaned Henry. “Now you have to work and make do with what you have.

“It’s necessary to work and work. There are still a lot of points to play for and that’s the only positive thing about this evening.”

Monaco were champions in 2017 but now have 13 points from 18 matches, just two more than Guingamp, and vice-president Vadim Vasilyev said the club needs to dip into the January transfer market.

“Until tonight, I thought we didn’t need new players, but we do,” Vasilyev told Canal+. “It’s difficult to analyse right now as I’m upset like the supporters. I understand the disappointment, it’s up to us to act and draw the right conclusions.”

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Barcelona held off Atletico Madrid to ensure they will be three points clear at the top of La liga going into the winter break after beating a spirited Espanyol 2-0 at the Camp Nou.

First-half goals from Ousmane Dembele and Lionel Messi were enough to move Ernesto Valverde’s side up to 37 points and keep them one step ahead of Atletico, who earlier drew level with Barca with a 1-0 win over Espanyol thanks to an Antoine Griezmann penalty.

Dembele put the hosts into the lead after just nine minutes when he lashed home on the rebound after Messi’s first-time shot was pushed into his path by Celta keeper Ruben Blanco. Messi doubled his side’s advantage just before half-time, bursting through completely unmarked to meet the excellent Jordi Alba’s through ball and wrong-foot Blanco as he slotted in his 15th league goal of the season.

Earlier, Antoine Griezmann smashed home from the spot 10 minutes after the break to give Diego Simeone’s side three points from a hard-fought match with mid-table Espanyol that extended Atletico’s unbeaten league run to 14 matches.

The 27-year-old Griezmann, who missed out on a Ballon d’Or despite winning the Europa League with Atletico last season and the World Cup with France in the summer, is on a fine run of form having saved his side with a late winner at Real Valladolid last week. His winner on Saturday was his fourth in three games after bagging a brace last week and scoring in Atletico’s 3-0 hammering of Alaves a fortnight ago.

Sevilla can join Atletico on 34 points with a win at struggling Leganes.

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© Agence France-Presse (additional edits from Chris Kelleher)

About Chris Kelleher

Student whose interests lie in sports ranging from Darts to MMA, with the likes of Golf, Boxing and Soccer in between. Closet wrestling fan and a lover of sports psychology and stiff jabs.