Berbatov on the mark for Monaco
Last Updated: 08/03/14 10:44pm
Monaco's Bulgarian forward Dimitar Berbatov celebrates
Dimitar Berbatov scored his first Monaco goal as the principality club immediately got back to winning ways with a 2-1 triumph at home to lowly Sochaux.
Monaco's title challenge suffered a blow last weekend when they lost at St Etienne, but were on course to bounce back after just five minutes as January signing Berbatov struck after six minutes.
Berbatov then won a penalty for James Rodriguez to convert on 54 minutes.
That proved crucial as Sochaux pulled a goal back late on, Edouard Butin scrambling in while he laid on the ground, although Jordan Ayew's petulant kick on Andrea Raggi ended any thought of a comeback as the on-loan striker saw red.
Defeat for Sochaux was made worse as relegation rivals Evian and Valenciennes both won on Saturday, to leave them eight points from safety.
After leaders Paris St Germain won 3-0 at Bastia in Saturday's early kick-off - to open an 11-point gap - Monaco knew anything but victory would almost certainly end their title bid.
Berbatov did not take long to ease any pre-match nerves as he fired in at the far post after Layvin Kurzawa made space down the left and crossed.
Sochaux goalkeeper Yohann Pele slapped away a curling shot from Kurzawa before the visitors hit the woodwork.
Ayew combined with Sebastien Roudet before firing in a cross that an unmarked Roy Contout volleyed against the back post.
Berbatov almost crafted a second for Monaco on 36 minutes when he delivered a well-weighted pass for Mounir Obbadi, who saw his first-time shot beat Pele but not Lionel Zouma.
Sochaux had the first chance after half-time, Sebastien Corchia shooting straight at the keeper after his control and turn, before Berbatov provoked Julien Faussurier into a tackle to earn his side a spot-kick.
Rodriguez converted the chance, as Pele dived away to his right, to make it 2-0.
Sochaux pulled a goal back six minutes from the end as Ayew's cross found its way to Butin who, while initially slipping at the feet of Raggi, kept his nerve to fashion a shot while lying on the turf and catch out Danijel Subasic.
Sochaux wasted the lifeline though as Ayew deservedly saw red for kicking out at Raggi and, while his coach Herve Renard quickly stepped in, the referee had already seen enough to send him on his way.
French Ligue 1
|1||Paris St Germain||38||83|
|18||Evian Thonon Gaillar||38||37|