Radamel Falcao’s first Champions League goals for over six years helped Monaco extend their lead at the top of Group E with a comfortable 3-0 win over CSKA Moscow.
Both the Monaco captain and Valere Germain took advantage of some shambolic CSKA defending to score before the Colombia striker – whose previous strike in the tournament came in February 2010 – added a wonderful third before half-time.
The Ligue 1 side are now in pole position to qualify from Group E and hold a two-point lead over Bayer Leverkusen in second before they host Tottenham – who are four points adrift in third – in three weeks.
CSKA had chances of their own, particularly through Carlos Strandberg – who was picked ahead of Lacina Traore against his parent club – but were left to pay the price for a series of mistakes at the back.
Leonid Slutsky’s men have now won just one of their last nine games in all competitions and remain rooted to the bottom of the group, with their chances of progression fading fast.
Monaco were gifted the first goal on 12 minutes, as CSKA’s backline failed in their attempt to play Germain offside following a half-cleared free-kick, allowing the Monaco forward free run at goal to convert at the second attempt.
It was an opening period littered with defensive errors from both sides and the hosts almost immediately handed back their lead, but Zoran Tosic failed to take advantage of Monaco keeper Danijel Subasic clearing the ball right to him as his effort was saved.
CSKA went even closer when Subasic sprawled to deny Carlos Strandberg after he raced behind the Monaco defence.
But it was Monaco who doubled their lead after 28 minutes when an unmarked Falcao slid to bundle in a pinpoint Benjamin Mendy cross at the far post for his first Champions League goal since February 2010.
Skipper Falcao grabbed his second four minutes before the break, finishing a fantastic move that he started by exchanging a lovely one-two with Germain before rolling his marker and firing impressively past Akinfeev.
The 30-year-old started the second half in the same vein as he searched desperately for his hat-trick, but he blazed wide from a powerful Mendy cross, saw another goalbound effort blocked and then fired another opportunity straight at Akinfeev.
Falcao’s best opportunity for a third was still to come midway through the second half as he smartly controlled in the area before shooting wide. His substitution with 16 minutes remaining ultimately ended those hopes.
CSKA, meanwhile, had brought on Traore after his goal in last month’s 1-1 draw between the two sides, but he could not inspire the visitors to find a way back into the contest.
The game petered out in the latter stages, with the hosts happy to keep ball and see out the emphatic win which takes Leonardo Jardim’s men a step closer to the last 16.
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