TOULOUSE, France (AP) — Dimitar Berbatov scored twice as Monaco warmed up for next week’s crucial Champions League match against Zenit St. Petersburg with a 2-0 win at Toulouse in the French League on Friday.
The 33-year-old striker put Monaco in front in the 45th minute with a classy finish from a tight angle then extended his team’s lead from the penalty spot in the 77th with his fifth goal this season.
In a match of few chances for both teams, Toulouse enjoyed most of the possession in the second half but did not create a single dangerous move.
The win provisionally lifted Monaco to seventh in the standings, nine points behind leader Marseille.
“I think we deserved to win, we were the better team,” said Berbatov after Monaco posted consecutive wins only for the second time this season. “It is an important win, now we have to prepare for another important game. This gave us more self-belief that we can progress in the Champions League.”
Berbatov found himself alone in the box just before half-time and, after connecting with Anthony Martial’s cross, slotted home with the outside of his right foot.
Runner-up in the league last season, Monaco has been struggling with consistency this term. The club has been struggling for goals but lost only once in the Champions League and only needs a draw at home against Zenit to qualify for the knockout phase.
With four games still to play before the winter break, Leonardo Jardim’s team has a hectic schedule to juggle but cleared the first hurdle in Toulouse.
The host’s best chance to level came after one hour, when Monaco captain Jeremy Toulalan inadvertently handled the ball in the box, but the referee did not give a penalty. He blew his whistle 17 minutes later though, after Fabinho cleared midfielder Abel Aguilar and defender Dragos Grigore put him down in the box with a rough tackle. Berbatov coolly converted, wrong-footing goalkeeper Ali Ahamada to his right.