Radamel Falcao returned from injury to earn Monaco a 1-0 win at Angers on Saturday in a welcome boost for the Ligue 1 leaders ahead of next week’s Champions League clash at Borussia Dortmund.
The Colombia striker, who had been out of action for four weeks with a hip injury, struck in the second half to lift the principality team on to 74 points from 31 games.
They lead Nice by four points and champions Paris St Germain, who host En Avant Guingamp on Sunday, by six.
Monaco, who lost 4-1 to PSG in the League Cup final last Saturday, travel to Dortmund on Tuesday.
Falcao’s return allowed coach Leonardo Jardim to rest French prodigy Kylian Mbappe, as well as influential midfielder Thomas Lemar.
Lemar came on as a second-half substitute, replacing another key midfielder, Bernardo Silva, while Mbappe spent the whole game on the bench.
Angers had the best chances in the first half, with Monaco keeper Danijel Subasic being forced into great saves to deny Famara Diedhiou just before the break.
Monaco looked transformed after the interval and they were rewarded in the 61st minute when Falcao found the back of the net with a low shot from inside the area.
Angers keeper Alexandre Letellier produced a string of stunning saves to keep his team afloat, and the hosts came close to an equaliser when Ismael Traore’s effort struck Subasic’s left-hand post.