Monaco held as French Ligue 1 season kicks off

Champions League hopefuls Monaco threw away a lead to draw 1-1 with Nantes in the opening game of the French Ligue 1 season on Friday.

Gelson Martins gave the principality side the perfect start in the 14th minute at the Stade Louis II when he turned in a cross by Caio Henrique.

Niko Kovac’s side, who finished third last season, were looking to build on their 2-0 win away to Sparta Prague in the first leg of their Champions League third qualifying round tie in midweek.

However they were pegged back shortly before halftime as defender Jean-Charles Castelletto headed in the equaliser for a Nantes side who only avoided relegation at the end of last season in a two-legged play-off.

After most of the last campaign in France was played out behind closed doors, fans made their return for this game but all spectators aged over 16 needed to show a valid Covid health pass to prove they were fully vaccinated or had tested negative for the virus.

The crowd of 7 000 at the Stade Louis II, which included Prince Albert of Monaco, saw a trio of new signings in Monaco’s starting line-up.

Bayern Munich loanee Alexander Nuebel was selected in goal and Brazilian midfielder Jean Lucas featured along with Dutch under-21 international striker Myron Boadu, who was signed from AZ Alkmaar for a reported €17 million on Wednesday.

Monaco play the second leg of their Champions League tie against Sparta on Tuesday. If they progress they will face a two-legged playoff against either Genk or Shakhtar Donetsk for a place in the group stage.

Last season’s Ligue 1 runners-up Paris Saint-Germain kick off their campaign on Saturday away to newly-promoted Troyes.

Champions Lille are in action on Sunday away to Metz. © AFP

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