AS Monaco kicked off their Europa League campaign in winning fashion by notching a 1-0 win over Sturm Graz at the Stade Louis II. 

With Niko Kovac making a host of changes and giving the likes of Wilson Isidor, Ismail Jakobs, Eliot Matazo, Strahinja Pavlovic and Krepin Diatta rare starts, he cut a content figure after the match. “We had made some changes in the starting XI. It was a tough game against a successful Graz side in defense. We won the match, that’s the most important. I hope this will give confidence to the whole team,” he explained.

Kovac then went onto single out Diatta for praise, whose goal was enough to propel Les Monegasques to victory, gleaming: “It is true that he has experienced difficulties since his arrival because of the Covid and some injuries. I’m really glad he got to score tonight. But, he didn’t listen to me, I asked him to score two goals (laughs)!”

On a night where Monaco were the dominant force, the numbers punctuate their ascendancy, for the bettered their foes in terms of possession (72% to 28%), expected goals (1.93 to 0.11), shots (15 to three), chances created (16 to two) and duels won (65 to 38).

Controlling the match with and without the ball, there was a lot to like about Monaco’s accomplished performance that saw them limit their adversaries effectively while imposing themselves on the away team. 

Jetting to the top of their extremely tough group that also contains Real Sociedad and PSV Eindhoven, obtaining all three points was the perfect way to begin the competition.

Monaco will now be looking to carry their positive momentum into their colossal derby clash with OGC Nice this weekend, where a win over their rivals would be a huge boost in their quest to surge up the table.