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Soccer-Lille still winless as Lens sink Monaco

MONACO :Ligue 1 champions Lille's winless start to the season stretched to three games after they conceded a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw at St Etienne while opportunist goals by Ignatius Ganago and Simon Banza gave Lens a 2-0 win at Monaco on Saturday.

After the opening 3-3 draw at Metz and a 4-0 home drubbing by Nice, Lille seemed to have got their title defence on track after Burak Yilmaz gave them a 38th-minute lead with a crisp shot from the edge of the penalty.

But the champions missed several chances to double their advantage as home goalkeeper Etienne Green pulled off three good saves before Saidou Sow levelled with a towering 86th-minute header off the underside of the bar.

The result provisionally left Lille 13th on two points from three games while St Etienne are ninth on three points following a third successive draw.

In the day's afternoon fixture, Lens piled the pressure on Monaco manager Niko Kovac as the principality side continued their poor start after both teams finished with 10 men.

The result lifted Lens up to fourth on five points from three games after their first league win of the season while Monaco dropped to 18th with one point following a second successive defeat.

With one eye on Wednesday's Champions League playoff round return leg at Shakhtar Donetsk, where Monaco aim to overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit, Kovac fielded a makeshift side as he left several regular starters on the bench.

Ganago fired Lens into a 51st-minute lead when he robbed Strahinja Pavlovic of the ball and powered his shot past Alexander Nuebel, as the home side's stand-in keeper got a hand to the ball but could not keep it out.

Lens had Cheick Oumar Doucoure red-carded on the hour for a studs-up challenge on Krepin Diatta before Monaco's Russian forward Aleksandr Golovin followed in his footsteps in the 85th minute for a rash tackle on Banza.

The late substitute sealed his team's victory after another calamitous defensive error by Monaco, with left back Caio Henrique giving the ball away to Przemyslaw Frankowski who squared the ball to Banza for a simple finish.

In Sunday's standout fixtures, Nice host coastal rivals Olympique Marseille, promoted Clermont Foot will bid for a third straight win at struggling Olympique Lyon and Angers also aim to continue their perfect start at Girondins Bordeaux.

(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Source: Reuters

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