Rony Lopes struck again to salvage a point for AS Monaco as they battled to a 1-1 draw at Stade Rennais FC in Wednesday's rescheduled Week 31 encounter.
Stade Rennais FC 1-1 AS Monaco
Rennes started as brightly as the early evening Breton sunshine, and Joris Gnagnon volleyed home a Sanjin Prcic cross to deservedly put them in front (20'). The young centre-back's goal was the highlight of a strong opening from the hosts.
Prcic brought a spectacular save from Danijel Subasic with a sublime curling effort (25') and Gnagnon headed just over (26') as Rennes, unbeaten in their previous six, sought move clear in the race for fifth.
Sabri Lamouchi's side had seen Montpellier Hérault SC move ahead of them into fifth with victory at the weekend, but against the reigning champions, a maximum haul would have to be hard earned.
Stevan Jovetic, a substitute in Saturday's 3-0 Coupe de la Ligue final defeat to Paris Saint-Germain, brought a save from Tomas Koubek (27') before the highly rated Czech goalkeeper was beaten by Lopes' low shot (29'). The in-form Portuguese midfielder netting his seventh goal in his last six league games.
Rennes responded though, and but for Subasic, who saved at the feet of Wahbi Khazri (36'), and Lady Luck, who directed Benjamin André's header onto a post with the Monaco goalkeeper beaten (44'), they would have been ahead at the break.
The rain that started to fall in the second half did nothing to dampen the hosts' enthusiasm for wreaking havoc with the reigning Ligue 1 Conforama champions. Though Jemerson sent a header wide (50') and centre-back partner Kamil Glik might have converted a cross (60'), the Monaco defence was mostly concerned with their day job.
They did it well, but were still not able to prevent Rennes from threatening to secure a first win in seven attempts against them. André would surely have scored had he connected better with a Khazri free-kick (76') while Subasic beat away a fierce Benjamin Bourigeaud shot (83') to keep the scoreline level.
The hosts should still have claimed all three points in added time, but when Bourigeaud found the unmarked Adrien Hunou in the six-yard box, the substitute had to fling himself at the ball, and saw his header go past the far post with the goal gaping (90+1') as Monaco rode their luck to extend their unbeaten streak to 16 league matches.
The point sees Rennes reclaim fifth place while Monaco are now five points clear of Olympique de Marseille in second place. The result means the champions are 16 points behind PSG who — if they win at AS Saint-Etienne on Friday — will be watching Monaco's home game with Nantes on Saturday with interest. If the visitors win at the Stade Louis II, PSG would reclaim the title with six matches to go.
THE PLAYER: Benjamin André
So many Rennes players to choose from, notably their two young centre-backs, Gnagnon, 21, and Jérémy Gélin, 20, but André stood out. The midfielder did a bit of everything except score the goal his performance deserved.
THE STAT: 19
Monaco have come from behind to claim 19 points this season, though this was only their second away from home.