Monaco beat ten-man Metz
By D. Crossan
Monaco took advantage of Metz goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima being sent off early in the second half as the Ligue 1 Conforama champions beat the division's bottom club 3-1.
The result lifted Monaco to provisional third ahead of Sunday night's clash between Olympique Lyonnais and Paris Saint-Germain and ended Metz's impressive unbeaten streak at five games.
Metz started brightly and had the game's first shot through the in-form Nolan Roux but Frédéric Hantz's plans were affected as winger Matthieu Dossevi went off injured in the 11th minute, replaced by Ibrahima Niane. While Monaco had the possession and captain Radamel Falcao had a chance, they were frustrated by Metz's five-man backline and didn't have a shot on target until going in front on the stroke of half-time.
Falcao beat the offside trap but Kawashima made a great stop with his legs. The ball came back to Jorge and the left-back took a touch to control before firing in a sublime left-footed volley that lodged in the corner of the goal. The Brazilian hurt himself in the act of scoring and had to be replaced after the break.
Kawashima was dismissed five minutes after the restart for rushing out of his box and bringing down the flying Adama Diakhaby. Quentin Beunardeau came on in goal for his Ligue 1 Conforma debut and did well to save from Djibril Sidibé (60') before being beaten in the 67th minute by an exquisite Rachid Ghezzal curler after a double one-two with Thomas Lemar.
Metz scored for the first time in seven top division visits to Monaco when Farid Boulaya's first involvement off the bench saw the attacking midfielder on loan from Girona curl a corner onto Niane's head. Unmarked, the 18-year-old Senegalese powered home his first Ligue 1 Conforama goal.
Monaco made the points completely safe nine minutes from time when Fabinho teased the visiting defence and crossed low for substitute Rony Lopes to tap home. Both Monaco and Metz face high-calibre opposition in the weeks to come in this crucial portion of the season.
THE PLAYER: Eiji Kawashima
The 34-year-old Japanese goalkeeper has been first choice since the end of November and his importance to Metz has grown with the absence of Thomas Didillon, who recently underwent back surgery. Kawashima's red card was a clear turning point, though Beunardeau did enough to suggest he'll fill in well while Kawashima is banned.
THE STAT: 48
Monaco have now scored in 48 consecutive home Ligue 1 Conforama games, netting 126 goals in that remarkable run. They are closing in on the record held by the Nice of 1975-1978 at 55 matches.