RC Strasbourg maintained their impressive momentum with a 5-1 win at AS Monaco on Saturday that pushed the visitors into fifth place and left the hosts with more worries at the wrong end of the table.
AS Monaco 1-5 RC Strasbourg Alsace
Monaco had seen En Avant Guingamp thrashed at Paris Saint-Germain just before kick-off and had no doubt watched Amiens SC — three points ahead of them in 17th place before Week 21 — lose to LOSC Lille on Friday evening.
That spelled a welcome opportunity to escape the bottom three, but their optimism was quickly tempered by a Strasbourg side that had won its last five competitive games.
After new signing Naldo had been sent off for hauling back Ludovic Ajorque — the Brazilian defender's very first Ligue 1 Conforama foul — just seven minutes in, Ajorque crashed home a header to open the scoring (19').
In-form Adrien Thomasson then grabbed his third goal in four league games to double the visitors' lead (19') and leave Thierry Henry scratching his head for a solution to his side's ill fortune and ill-advised defending.
He found one in his captain, Radamel Falcao, who shortly after heading narrowly wide (20'), was picked out by Youri Tielemans and beat Matz Sels for his eighth league strike of the season and — more importantly — give his side hope (24').
With another new signing, Cesc Fabregas, imperious in midfield, the hosts took control of the game despite their numerical disadvantage, but on a rare foray forwad, visiting captain Stefan Mitrovic should have scored a third only to see his close-range header strike the crossbar (42').
Jonas Martin fired powerfully but straight at Benaglio (54') to show the hosts there would be no let-up in the second half, and when Ibrahima Sissoko steered a magnificent shot into the top corner after Ajorque had robbed Fabregas, Strasbourg were cruising (64').
If the third goal was breathing space, Thierry Laurey's men could have headed to a beach on the Mediterranean coast after Ajorque ran from inside his own half before — with four Monaco players around him — drilling a low shot beyond Benaglio from the edge of the penalty area (68').
Perhaps Mitrovic was seeking an early dip in the Med when he lunged in on Rony Lopes to earn a second yellow card (69'), though it meant he could watch Youssouf Fofana cap an otherwise wholly positive night with a fifth in added time (90+4') as Monaco — runners-up last season — left the Stade de Louis II pitch to boos.
THE PLAYER: Ludovic Ajorque
The 1.97m forward showed once again he is so much more than a target man. His header lived up to the stereotype, but he worked for and teed up the third, and then dribbled 40 metres before finishing coolly for the fourth. Right now, he's a handful for anyone!
THE STAT: 10
Monaco have not won any of their last ten home games in Ligue 1 Conforama, an unwanted club record, and are the only team — along with Frosinone in Serie A — not to have won a home match this season in any of Europe's top five leagues.