By Matthew Spiro in Monaco
AEK Athens FC's run of seven straight draws in the UEFA Champions League came to an end at the Stade Louis II on Tuesday evening, as AS Monaco FC consolidated their position at the top of Group C with a 4-0 victory.
Two goals from Fernando Morientes and strikes from skipper Ludovic Giuly and substitute Dado Pršo did the damage for the rampant French club, who now have maximum points from their first two matches.
AEK start well
Buoyed by their vocal supporters, AEK started brightly and could have opened the scoring inside the first minute. Christos Maladenis breached the Monaco offside trap with a subtle pass through the middle and Yannis Okkas only had goalkeeper Flavio Roma to beat, but hit his shot wide of the far post.
The Monaco players looked nervous, frequently losing possession cheaply in midfield - and the visitors went close again in the sixth minute as Okkas flashed a header fractionally past the near post following good work from Nikolaos Georgeas on the right.
Giuly breaks deadlock
Monaco slowly found their rhythm, however, and they took the lead with their first chance of the match in the 23rd minute. Patrice Evra broke down the left and when his deep cross eluded the entire AEK defence, Giuly was on hand to rifle in a right-footed effort from the right side of the area.
Morientes increases advantage
AEK looked to hit back immediately but Kostas Katsouranis scooped his shot high over the crossbar after Maladenis’s cutback had arrived perfectly into his path. Moments later, Monaco were two up: Jérôme Rothen’s 27th-minute corner found Sébastien Squillaci at the far post and when his downward header cannoned back off the crossbar, Fernando Morientes crashed the rebound home.
Rothen shoots wide
The French side were rampant at this point and could have added a third just before the half-hour mark. Emmanuel Adebayor's right-wing cross fell to Morientes but, after the Spanish striker had been foiled, the ball fell to Rothen who shot wide.
Skipper off target
AEK had a golden opportunity to get back in the game three minutes before the break. Grigorios Georgatos's free-kick picked out Maladenis in space ten metres out, but the visiting captain could only divert his first-time shot harmlessly wide.
More danger signs
Monaco showed no signs of sitting on the their lead at the start of the second half, and the alarm bells were ringing in the AEK defence straightaway when Adebayor’s low cross from the right flashed across the face of goal.
Morientes doubles tally
Roma made a sharp save from Maladenis’s snapshot in the 50th minute, but AEK’s comeback hopes evaporated six minutes later. Giuly’s goalbound shot was deflected wide for a corner, from which Rothen’s centre was headed expertly inside the far post from Morientes for his second of the game.
On a night of missed chances for the visitors, Theodoros Zagorakis failed to hit the target after Georgatos’s left-wing free-kick had picked him out unmarked at the near post. A frustrating night for AEK was summed up in the 80th minute when striker Nikolaos Lyberopoulos fired his shot wide of the far post from six metres out with the Monaco goalkeeper Roma beaten.
Pršo gets final word
Pršo put the seal on the performance with a strike four minutes from time, soon after he had replaced Morientes. Again Giuly was the instigator, slipping a clever through-ball for the Croatian to run onto before shooting high into the top corner of the net.