Carlos Vinicius conjured a brilliant last-minute goal to claim his first Ligue 1 Conforama strike and give AS Monaco a 1-0 win at second-placed LOSC Lille on Friday.
LOSC 0-1 AS Monaco
Monaco had gone six games unbeaten since Leonardo Jardim had resumed control, and Rony Lopes' early incursions into the Lille penalty area to test Mike Maignan (7', 12') were an indication of their increased self-belief.
Lille though were looking to extend their seven-point advantage over Olympique Lyonnais in third, and would have given themselves at least a chance of doing so but for wasteful finishing in the first half.
Jonathan Bamba struck the bar when he should have scored (10') and then fired over from a good position (20') before Thiago Mendes somehow failed to hit the target (24') with the goal gaping after Nicolas Pepe's cutback had found him in space inside the penalty area.
Bamba wasted another opportunity (43') and Pepe saw Danijel Subasic turn a fierce shot round the post (45') as Lille, who had suffered just one defeat in their last 14 games, pushed their visitors to the limit.
Monaco, who were six points clear of the bottom three at kick-off having picked up their fewest number of points at this stage of a season since 1975/76, regrouped at half-time, and Aleksandr Golovin should have done better than fire straight at Maignan with a good chance early in the second half (48').
Gelson Martins, who had been expected to provide Monaco's most potent goal threat in the absence of suspended captain and top scorer Radamel Falcao, burst into life with a shot that Maignan parried (54') before Rafael Leao wasted another promising opening at the opposite end (59').
Both teams then appeared to run out of steam until Vinicius snaked out a long leg to bring down Jean-Eudes Ahoulou's wayward shot, touched the ball delicately over Jose Fonte and sidefooted sweetly beyond Maignan (90') to give Monaco a first away win in six attempts.
THE PLAYER: Carlos Vinicius
The Brazilian striker has had a scenic and tough route to the top, but his goal showed why Monaco have brought him in on loan from Napoli. It was a classy finish, and one that suggests there will be a lot more to come.
THE STAT: 11
Monaco have lost just one of the last 11 league games with Lille, and are unbeaten in six meetings with the northerners.