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We should strive to match the top sides in France, says Monaco boss Jardim

Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim has challenged his side to match Ligue 1’s big guns between now and the end of the season.

Jardim’s side have collected 10 points from their last four matches following Sunday’s 2-0 home win against third-placed Lyon to climb five clear of the relegation zone.

When Jardim was reappointed in January after Thierry Henry had been sacked Monaco were second from bottom in the table.

“We have played four of the 16 (games remaining) in this mini championship,” Jardim told a press conference.

“Our goal is to be at the level of the best teams in France in this period and at the moment this is the case.

“Sports performance may change, but the quality of players remains the same.”

Gelson Martins and Rony Lopes scored first-half goals as Monaco, who began the day two points above the bottom three, have leapfrogged Amiens into 16th place.

Winger Martins and midfielder Lopes scored in the 18th and 27th minutes respectively to put Monaco in control early in the game, while Lyon striker Memphis Depay’s second-half penalty was saved.

“It was very important to win this game because we are in a situation where we need to earn points, whoever the opponent,” Jardim added.

Lyon coach Bruno Genesio was at a loss to explain why his side began the game in sluggish fashion.

“I’m trying to find explanations for our start that was not good at all, explanations and not excuses,” Genesio told a press conference.

Lyon held Barcelona to a goalless home draw in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie in midweek and Genesio feels that may have taken its toll on his players.

“Maybe we left a lot of energy against Barcelona, ​​maybe that my preparation was not good, it can be different things,” he said.

“We did not show enough envy, aggression and entrepreneurship in the first half. We were beaten in all duels.”

Lyon remain third but are now five points behind second-placed Lille after losing two of their last three league matches.