Falcao holds PSG and Ibra to frustrating draw

PARIS (Reuters) - Radamel Falcao answered Zlatan Ibrahimovic's early opening goal for Paris St Germain with a quick equaliser for a 1-1 draw that kept Monaco top of Ligue 1 on Sunday.

Ibrahimovic put the capital-based champions ahead after just five minutes by volleying home a Maxwell cross from the right.

Falcao cancelled it out 15 minutes later with his fifth goal of the season when he tapped home a Joao Moutinho cross as Monaco took advantage of Thiago Silva's 15th-minute substitution because of a thigh strain.

The draw kept Monaco top of the table with 14 points from six games, two ahead of PSG in second and St Etienne in third.

The highly anticipated confrontation between two of the biggest spending sides in the summer did not prove as spectacular as PSG coach Laurent Blanc had promised.

However, it was enough to satisfy the former France coach, who said his dominamt side had lacked only a little more efficiency.

"I think we have made a great performance and with the amount of chances we had, we should have won," he told a news conference.

"I told my players that they should be happy with their overall production. It had been a very good match, with two coaches who tried to win it."

Some big names failed to shine, especially PSG's record signing Edinson Cavani, who was forced to play deep on the right wing with Monaco's full backs providing a lot of support to their attacking players.

With the Uruguay striker overshadowed, though he could have given his side victory with a injury-time header, PSG had to rely on Ibrahimovic to try to convert their domination into a lead, but the Swede made as many bad choices as inspired moves.

While he came close to stunning the packed crowd with a splendid 35-metre half-volley midway through the first half, he wasted a counter-attack just before halftime after Marco Verratti had brilliantly put him through on goal.

Ibrahimovic was also denied a backheel from close range by goalkeeper Danijel Subasic seven minutes into the second half.

Monaco had their chances too but it was PSG who were left frustrated after a late surge that saw Cavani twice miss the target.

Coach Claudio Ranieri expressed satisfaction after his young team, with five players aged 21 or less in the starting lineup, passed the big test.

"We have a lot a players without the experience of the Ligue 1 while PSG have a lot a great champions, so I think it had been a very good game for all our young players," he said.

"We have made a few mistakes, missed some easy passes. But it's normal. Maybe some of them have felt the pressure. I think the next game will be better for us."

Monaco host Bastia on Wednesday, with the Corsica outfit promising to be tough opponents after holding Olympique Marseille to a 0-0 draw on Saturday.

Marseille are fourth in the table with 11 points, one behind St Etienne who wasted a chance to go top by slumping to a 2-1 home defeat against Toulouse in the weekend's opening game.

In Sunday's early action, seventh-placed Olympique Lyonnais put an end to a six-game winless streak in all competitions by beating promoted side Nantes 3-1 thanks to goals by Bafetimbi Gomis, Clement Grenier and Jimmy Briand, his 50th in Ligue 1.

Nice made a brilliant start in their brand new Allianz Riviera stadium, one of the 10 venues for the 2016 European championship, by hammering second-bottom Valenciennes 4-0.

(Reporting by Gregory Blachier; Editing by Rex Gowar and John Mehaffey)

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