"That fourth goal was the icing on the cake – happy birthday Dado." Dado Pršo
If anyone had asked AS Monaco FC striker Dado Pršo what he wanted for his 29th birthday, they may have thought he was being greedy if he said he wanted to score four goals in a UEFA Champions League game.
Yet against RC Deportivo La Coruña he did just that on a night French sports paper L'Equipe would label "une soirée de folie" (an evening of madness). By the end of it there were new competition records for most goals scored by one side and highest aggregate scoreline.
There was little inkling of what was to come as 15,882 spectators took their seats at the Stade Louis II. A fortnight earlier only Diego Tristán's late goal separated the sides after a taut contest in Spain, edging Depor a point clear of their opponents atop Group C. Jérôme Rothen's second-minute opener ensured there was no repeat.
It did not so much prise open the floodgates as blow them apart. Monaco, deprived of frontline striker Fernando Morientes through injury, flooded forward, swamping the Spanish side with wave after wave of attacks. By the time the visitors finally plugged the gaping holes in their defensive levees they were 4-0 down, two goals from Pršo and another from Ludovic Giuly adding to Rothen's opener.
Tristán and Lionel Scaloni halved the deficit before the interval, but there was still time for Pršo to complete his hat-trick – the game was up. Neither Monaco nor their Croatian striker were done, though. Jaroslav Plašil inflicted more damage soon after the restart before Pršo became the third player to hit four goals in one UEFA Champions League game – just 23 minutes separated his first effort from last.
Tristán continued the deluge at the other end with a stunning solo effort, but Monaco had the last word, Édouard Cissé rounding off an 8-3 win midway through the second half. Yet the night belonged to Pršo. "The coach told me he'd give me a birthday present – it couldn't be better," he said. "I've scored twice before but never hit a hat-trick, let alone four goals."