An injury, a red card and a disallowed goal compound a miserable return for Henry
Thierry Henry did not enjoy the triumphant homecoming he must have been hoping for, as his hapless Monaco side fell to a 2-1 defeat at Strasbourg on Saturday. Things couldn’t have gone much worse for France’s all-time top scorer on his return to the club where he launched his professional career, as he lost his star striker to injury, saw another one dismissed for a high tackle and witnessed his team slump to a fourth successive defeat and a sixth in ten games – their second worst ever start to a season.
The odds were stacked somewhat against Henry before a ball had even been kicked. Not only were his two first-choice keepers (World Cup finalist Danijel Subašić from Croatia and Swiss back-up Diego Benaglio) out injured, but the defensive trio of Andrea Raggi, Kevin N’Doram and Jemerson were also absent through suspension and injury. As such, he was forced to field a makeshift 4-4-2 comprised of lesser-experienced stoppers – but still set out his stall to attack by selecting Stefan Jovetić, Nader Chadli and Aleksandr Golovin in support of skipper Radamel Falcao.
Unfortunately, that attacking approach did not pay off as things went from bad to worse early on for Henry and Monaco. Young keeper Seydou Sy fumbled an innocuous header from Adrien Thomasson to gift Strasbourg an early lead in the 17th minute, while their captain Falcao had a goal disallowed for offside before limping off with an injury shortly afterwards. The first half came to a close with just a single goal between the teams, and Henry tried to shake things up in the second period by introducing Samuel Grandsir in place of the ineffective Jovetić.
That would prove to be a costly error as Grandsir was dismissed for a high challenge less than two minutes after coming onto the field, leaving Monaco to play out almost half an hour with ten men. As such, it was little surprise when the substitute Lebo Mothiba doubled Strasbourg’s advantage on 84 minutes, while an injury-time penalty dispatched by Youri Tielemans did little to raise Monegasque spirits. The 2-1 defeat means that Monaco now have just six points from their opening ten games, which is their second worst start to a season ever. Strasbourg, on the other hand, rise to sixth.