Radamel Falcao and Rony Lopes both scored as AS Monaco came from behind to beat FC Nantes 2-1 on Saturday and up the pressure on their rivals for a top-two finish.
AS Monaco 2-1 FC Nantes
With Paris Saint-Germain failing to win at AS Saint-Etienne on Friday and, in fact, only narrowly avoiding defeat, Monaco's title defence is mathematically still on. But it was the five points they had in hand over third-placed Olympique de Marseille, who play host to Montpellier Hérault SC on Sunday, that concerned the principality side the most.
After their midweek exertions in Rennes in midweek, Monaco again looked sluggish, and were caught cold when Adrien Thomasson brilliantly half-volleyed beyond Danijel Subasic to put the visitors in front (32').
Nantes had travelled to the Mediterranean coast looking to improve their meagre 2018 points tally of 11 in a bid to push themselves to the front of the race for fifth place and UEFA Europa League qualification for next season.
But just as Claudio Ranieri's hard-working men might have been starting to dream, they were given clear evidence of why Monaco are looking to be in European club football's premier competition, and not its second-tier cousin.
When Lopes failed to take Fabinho's driven cross in his stride, Falcao instantly drilled the loose ball past Ciprian Tatarusanu (42') before the Colombia international, who now has 18 league strikes this season, found Lopes inside the area - a touch, a swivel and a sublime curling shot later, and Monaco were in front (45').
Falcao would have made it three but for a timely Nicolas Pallois clearance (48'), but Jemerson nearly put through his own-goal to give Nantes hope they could get back into it (52') and at least pick up a fourth successive away draw.
Falcao's predatory instincts almost caught out a dozing Koffi Djidji (85') and Youri Tielemans forced a good save from Tatarusanu (90+1') before Subasic's stop from Emiliano Sala's long-range effort (90+3') extended Monaco's unbeaten run to 17 matches and took them eight points clear in second.
THE PLAYER: Rony Lopes
Another stunning display from the Portuguese midfielder who now has eight goals in his last seven league games and this was the pick of them. More than the attacking edge he provides, he also worked hard for the team in a complete performance.
THE STAT: 20
Monaco have now picked up a league-high 20 points when they have conceded the opening goal in games this season.