Pršo delivers big birthday surprise in Monaco

Stade Louis II, Monaco – 05/11/2003 – Group stage
Monaco
Monaco
Rothen 2 Giuly 11 Pršo 26, 30, 45+2, 49 Plašil 47 Cissé 67
8 - 3
Deportivo
  • Tristán 39, 52
  • Scaloni 45
Deportivo
End-to-end drama

"That fourth goal was the icing on the cake – happy birthday Dado." Dado Pršo

2003/04

• FC Bayern München beat RSC Anderlecht 1-0 on Matchday 6 as they advanced at their visitors' expense. It proved the first of a record 12 successive UEFA Champions League defeats for the Belgian outfit.

• AEK Athens FC ended their third campaign still seeking a first group stage win. It would not be until the 22nd attempt, against LOSC Lille Métropole in 2006/07, that they finally broke their duck.

• This was the first season under the competition format still in use today as an extra knockout round replaced the second group stage, meaning sides had to come through 13 games to win rather than 17.

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."

Star players

  • Pršo

    Strong in the air with a deft touch, Dado Pršo was an ideal foil. He left the former Yugoslavia due to the unstable political situation and, a latecomer, eventually made his way to AS Monaco FC. He won the 2000 Ligue 1, adding the Scottish championship at Rangers FC in 2005. Not a natural goalscorer he had his moments, hitting four in 23 minutes for Monaco in a UEFA Champions League meeting with RC Deportivo La Coruña in 2003.

  • Evra

    Senegalese-born French international Patrice Evra left Paris Saint-Germain FC's youth academy to begin his career in Italy as a winger with lowly Marsala Calcio. It is as a left-back that he made his name, however, rising to prominence in AS Monaco FC's run to the 2004 UEFA Champions League final. He has contested two more showpieces since joining Manchester United FC in 2006, winning against Chelsea FC two years later.

  • Tristán

    At his peak Diego Tristán was one of the best all-round strikers in Europe, as comfortable on the ball as off it, in the air as on the ground. Hailing from just outside Seville, he is best known for his six-year spell at RC Deportivo La Coruña between 2000 and 2006, amassing over 100 goals, winning the 2002 Copa del Rey and twice finishing runner-up in the Liga.

What happened next?

• Both sides advanced from Group C, with section winners Monaco then beating PFC Lokomotiv Moskva, Real Madrid CF and Chelsea FC en route to the final in Gelsenkirchen, where they went down 3-0 to FC Porto.

• Porto saw off RC Deportivo La Coruña in the last four, though only after the Spanish side conjured up another memorable moment as they beat AC Milan 4-0 to overturn a 4-1 quarter-final first-leg defeat.

• It would be almost four years to the day before another side scored eight goals in a UEFA Champions League game, Liverpool FC beating Turkish side Beşiktaş JK 8-0 – the Reds were 2-0 up at half-time.

• Twelve months later Ruud van Nistelrooy became the fourth player to score four goals in a UEFA Champions League game as Manchester United FC brushed AC Sparta Praha aside with a 4-1 victory at Old Trafford.

• Deportivo finished third in the Liga and negotiated qualifying to secure their place in the UEFA Champions League group stage for the fifth successive season. They have not featured since, however.

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