Martial magic for Monaco
Teenage striker Anthony Martial set Monaco on their way to a 2-0 victory over Guingamp.
Last Updated: 14/12/13 10:11pm
Teenage striker Anthony Martial set Monaco on their way to a fifth successive victory to take the battle for supremacy going into the Ligue 1 winter break down to the final round of matches.
The halfway stage of the season is approaching, with the French top flight closing down for two weekends over Christmas and New Year.
Paris St Germain's win against Rennes earlier on Saturday saw their lead over second-placed Monaco reach five points, but Claudio Ranieri's Monaco closed that gap to a more manageable cushion thanks to goals from Martial and left-back Layvin Kurzawain the 2-0 win against Guingamp.
This was not only a fifth win in a row for Monaco, but a fifth without conceding a goal too, and they may yet sit top of the pile at Christmas.
Monaco will tackle Valenciennes on Friday, with Paris St Germain at home to Lille on the following Sunday.
There was a scare for Monaco before they made their breakthrough, as Ladislas Douniama saw a shot blocked by goalkeeper Danijel Subasic after some surprisingly shaky defending.
But the opening goal arrived as early as the third minute when 18-year-old Martial provided the clinical finish after James Rodriguez beat three defenders before offloading. Goalkeeper Guy N'Dy Assembe had fluffed a clearance to present Rodriguez with the ball.
Monaco's task was made more straightforward in the 23rd minute when defender Jonathan Martins-Pereira was dismissed, receiving a second yellow card for handball after being handed his first for scything down Rodriguez.
Duly the visitors went two goals in front four minutes before half-time as Joao Moutinho drove over a corner and Kurzawa, standing unmarked by the penalty spot, headed powerfully beyond N'Dy Assembe.
Guingamp had the better of the second-half chances as they chased the game with 10 men.
Christophe Mandanne fired wide early on, Thibaut Giresse's free-kick forced Subasic to punch to safety, and shortly afterwards Giresse grazed the outside of the left post with a fierce right-footed shot from 25 yards.
Again it was Giresse with Guingamp's final serious threat to the Monaco goal, as the midfielder with the impressive scoring record to match his eagerness to shoot took aim from 30 yards. His free-kick carried significant threat but Subasic made the save.