French league leader Monaco continued its rampant scoring form as Radamel Falcao netted a hat trick in a 4-0 win away to Bordeaux on Saturday.
The win moved the Principality side to the top of the league on goal difference, with an emphatic emphasis on goals: 53 so far. It is the second highest tally in French football after 17 league matches since RC Paris netted 55 in 1959.
Monaco has already scored 23 more than Nice and defending champion Paris Saint-Germain, who play each other on Sunday.
Falcao is thriving after two complicated seasons on loan in the English Premier League at Manchester United and Chelsea, where his form and scoring touch deserted him as he tried to recover from a career-threating knee injury.
Considered among the most feared marksmen in European football before his injury in January 2014, the Colombian striker is cutting loose as he makes up for lost time. His fifth goal in two games took him to 10 in 13 league matches so far, even though four of those appearances have been as a substitute.
He is combining superbly with unheralded striker Valere Germain, who set up his first two and whose elusive runs open up space for him to exploit.
Falcao made it 2-0 in the fourth minute, bundling in Germain’s cross. He finished clinically as Germain picked him out from the right in the 50th, and slotted in a penalty midway through the second half after midfielder Bernardo Silva was fouled.
It seemed like coach Leonardo Jardim was having mercy on Bordeaux when he took Falcao off with 20 minutes left, especially as the home side was down to 10 men after midfielder Adam Ounas was sent off for a crude foul on fullback Djibril Sidibe.
Nice needs only a draw in Paris on Sunday to reclaim top spot from Monaco.
But a win for Nice would move it three points clear and seven ahead of PSG, which heads into their showdown in poor form.
The pressure is rising on coach Unai Emery, whose tactics were called into question following a 3-0 loss away to Montpellier last weekend and a tepid 2-2 home draw with Bulgarian side Ludogorets in the Champions League on Tuesday.
DIJON 1, MARSEILLE 2
Marseille’s wait for a new homegrown star could finally be over after Maxime Lopez scored his first goal for the club.
The 19-year-old central midfielder poked in a cross from winger Florian Thauvin in the sixth minute.
Diminutive in stature, the 1.67-meter Lopez has the excellent technical skills required for a playmaker and reads the game well.
The last homegrown midfielder to break through Marseille’s ranks and impose himself was Samir Nasri, who left the club in the summer of 2008 to join Arsenal, and then did well at Manchester City.
Midfielder Mehdi Abeid equalized for Dijon but top-scorer Bafetimbi Gomis netted a late winner for his eighth of the season.
Marseille won consecutive league games for the first time this season and climbed up to eighth spot.
A hat trick from forward Ola Toivonen helped Toulouse to beat last-place Lorient 3-2 and move up to seventh place. Lille downed Montpellier 2-1 to climb up to mid-table, Nancy beat Angers 2-0 at home, and Corsican side Bastia won against Metz 2-0. The game between Nantes and Caen was called off because of thick fog.