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Football: Stuttering Monaco held with Falcao absent

With Radamel Falcao left out of their side, Monaco continued their stuttering start to the Ligue 1 season on Saturday (Aug 30) as they drew 1-1 with Lille at the Stade Louis II.

PARIS: With Radamel Falcao left out of their side, Monaco continued their stuttering start to the Ligue 1 season on Saturday (Aug 30) as they drew 1-1 with Lille at the Stade Louis II.

The day started in chaotic fashion for Monaco as Falcao, who had been named in the squad, was withdrawn from the matchday list at the last minute amid increasing speculation that he will leave the principality before the summer transfer window slams shut on Monday. Falcao's replacement in the starting line-up was Dimitar Berbatov and the Bulgarian earned his side a point with a 61st-minute equaliser to cancel out Nolan Roux's first-half opener for the visitors.

Leonardo Jardim's side were unable to find a winner and have managed just one victory, and four points, from the first month of the new campaign.

Lille, in contrast, will be satisfied with a result that maintains their unbeaten start to the season and gets them back on track after their midweek Champions League play-off exit at the hands of FC Porto in Portugal.

"We lacked intensity and aggression in the first half," admitted Portuguese coach Jardim. "There was much more intensity in the second half but I feel that we have dropped two points. We were the superior side. "We should have more points on the board but our project is to work for the future."

Of Falcao, he added: "Falcao was unavailable. I can't say any more than that. I don't know if he is going to leave and I don't want to talk any more about it … I really like Falcao but the most important thing is to talk about the match."

The Colombian, linked to Real Madrid and Manchester City, was in attendance, and he sat in a Monaco club suit in the stand next to his agent Jorge Mendes and club vice-president Vadim Vasilyev. From their vantage point, they watched Lille open the scoring in the 18th minute when Ryan Mendes cut the ball back for Roux, whose low volley found the net at the far post. Rony Lopes appeared to be in an offside position, right in front of goalkeeper Danijel Subasic, as the shot came in, but the offside flag stayed down.

Monaco started poorly but they slowly improved and Yannick Ferreira Carrasco and Berbatov both went close just before the interval. Lille had not conceded a single goal in their opening three Ligue 1 matches but they were eventually breached just after the hour mark when Fabinho found Ferreira Carrasco and his low cross was turned into the gaping goal at the back post by Berbatov.

Falcao's thoughts may have been elsewhere, but he rose to his feet to applaud the equalising goal, and Monaco pushed in search of a winner in the final stages. Their efforts were in vain, though, with a Joao Moutinho free-kick that flew over the bar as close as they came to taking all three points.

"It is a good point after playing Porto on Wednesday," said Lille coach Rene Girard, who was sent to the stands in the second half. "I don't know if many teams will come here and take points. I am very proud of my lads."

Marseille hammered Nice 4-0 on Friday, with Dimitri Payet scoring twice, while early leaders Bordeaux host Bastia on Sunday before champions Paris Saint-Germain face Saint-Etienne at the Parc des Princes.

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