By Matthew Spiro at Stade Louis II
AS Monaco FC proved to be RC Deportivo La Coruña's nemesis again, following up last season's 8-3 mauling with a more modest, but still convincing, victory.
The result gives Monaco their first points in this season's UEFA Champions League while Deportivo prop up Group A with a solitary point. Like in 2003/04, Monaco roared into an early lead, with Mohamed Kallon and Javier Saviola both scoring in the first ten minutes, and while Deportivo managed to stem the tide on this occasion, they rarely looked like turning the game.
Monaco reverted to a four-man backline after deploying three defenders in their opening day defeat at Liverpool FC, with Patrice Evra handed a new midfield role and Gaël Givet moving across to left-back. Pontus Farnerud replaced Diego Pérez on the right of midfield and Saviola continued his attacking partnership with Emmanuel Adebayor.
Deportivo made five changes from the side that was held by Olympiacos CFP. Pablo Amo and Joan Capdevila came into the defence, while Víctor Sánchez, Aldo Duscher and Fran joined Sergio González in a revamped midfield behind front-two Juan Carlos Valerón and Walter Pandiani.
The home side started brightly and Adebayor saw his shot blocked on the edge of the area as Deportivo struggled in the opening exchanges. The Monaco midfield was quicker to every loose ball, with Akis Zikos playing with authority in front of his defence.
Last season's finalists then made their early dominance count. After five minutes Maicon delivered a throughpass for Togolese striker Adebayor, who showed impressive calm in finding Kallon inside. Just one touch was required before Kallon drilled the ball past José Francisco Molina. Then Saviola doubled the lead, again scoring from close range after an unselfish cutback from Adebayor.
Deportivo belatedly clawed their way into the game, with Fran delivering a string of inviting crosses from the left. The Monaco defence appeared untroubled, however, until a slip from Sébastien Squillaci let Víctor through on the right side of the penalty area after 20 minutes, but his left-foot shot was touched wide by Flavio Roma.
Saviola on top
Monaco were soon on top again, with Saviola frequently dropping deep and finding space. The Argentina forward almost played Adebayor through on 35 minutes but saw his pass blocked by Jorge Andrade's hand, resulting in a booking for the Deportivo defender.
Deportivo should have pulled a goal back seconds later, as Fran teased a low cross to Pandiani at the far post but the sprawling Roma brilliantly saved his shot. It was a rare moment of danger for Monaco who went close to adding a third goal on 42 minutes, only for Saviola to see his stinging drive parried to safety by Molina.
The second half opened with a spell of Deportivo pressure and Roma was in the thick of the action again six minutes in, diving low to his left to save Pandiani's powerful volley after the striker had been played clear by Andrade. It was Pandiani's final contribution before being replaced by Alberto Luque.
Pedro Munitis then entered the fray in the 65th minute to give Deportivo another attacking option, but the home defence stood firm. At the other end Kallon's audacious long-range effort dipped over the crossbar.
Adebayor almost capped an impressive individual display with a goal but his dipping volley in the 74th minute cannoned back off the crossbar. Molina then saved bravely at the feet of Saviola but Monaco's victory was long sealed.