Leonardo Jardim’s team still looking for first home win of the season after 2-1 reverse
Monaco’s torrid start to the season continues after losing their latest home encounter 2-1 to Rennes. Los Monegasques went behind early on from a close-range strike by Rennes centre-back Damien da Silva and were reduced to ten men after Andrea Raggi saw red. Despite showing great character to equalise through captain Radamel Falcao in the second half, Monaco could not hold on for an important point and fell to Hatem Ben Arfa’s long-range strike on 77 minutes.
In a bid to halt his side’s recent slump, Monaco manager Leonardo Jardim opted for a back five in defence. However, any gameplan almost went out of the window just seven minutes into the match, after Youri Tielemans was very lucky to escape conceding a penalty when he went right through the back of opposing captain Benjamin André inside the box. Unperturbed, Rennes continued to probe down the right channel and Mehdi Zaffane’s drilled cross was only just cut out by Kamil Glik five minutes later.
Rennes wouldn’t have to wait long for the breakthrough though; with less than a quarter of an hour gone, da Silva edged in front of the sleeping Raggi to stab home another cross from the right, this time from a corner taken by Ben Arfa. If his guilt in conceding the goal wasn’t enough, Raggi then compounded matters just on the stroke of half-time by lashing out at Clément Grenier’s face in the area. The referee had no hesitation in reaching for the red and Monaco would have to dig deep to see out the second 45 with just 10 men.
To their credit, they tackled the task at hand with gusto and three minutes into the second period, they were level. A raking ball out of defence was brought down superbly by Moussa Sylla, who showed great strength and deft touch to shield the ball from three players and lay it off to Aleksandr Golovin, whose first-time pass into the path of Falcao was drilled through the legs of Mozambique international Mexer and into the far corner. At full stretch, Rennes keeper Abdoulaye Diallo didn’t have a chance.
Monaco could have even taken an unlikely lead had substitute Nacer Chadli not controlled a delicious ball over the top with his arm – or beaten the keeper with his subsequent effort, for that matter. In any case, Monaco’s period of pressure seemed to spark Rennes into life and the remaining half hour would turn into something of an onslaught from the visitors. Danijel Subašić did well in the Monaco goal to deny Grenier and Ben Arfa in quick succession, while Rennes substitute M’Baye Babacar Niang fired over wastefully from a good position.
However, Rennes and the mercurial Ben Arfa would have the last laugh, as the diminutive Frenchman whistled a rasping shot past Subašić from long range with just 13 minutes left on the clock. The Croatian stopper may feel he should have done better with the effort but the victory was no less than Rennes deserved and Jardim’s team must act quickly to stop the rot. Their next opportunity to do so will come in two weeks’ time away against Strasbourg, while Rennes will travel to Saint-Étienne.