Wissam Ben Yedder celebrated his 100th game for AS Monaco by scoring a wonderful brace against Red Star in the Coupe de France.
“For my 100th game at the Club, we won and we qualified so I’m very happy because the collective comes first. And to score two goals for this 100th game, it’s fantastic. It’s always nice, especially in front of all these fans who came to support us,” gleamed Ben Yedder after the match.
Bagging a goal in each half and leading the line with aplomb, Monaco’s captain put on a masterclass in terms of finishing, positional awareness and movement.
Lining up alongside Myron Boadu to form a potent frontline for Les Monegasques, the pair worked effectively together by creating space for one another and by dragging or pinning defenders to produce disconnects in the Red Star backline.
Knowing their roles and showing a good understanding, they coalesced smoothly, which was especially evident when they subtly switched roles, made decoy runs or used opposite movements (where one would drop and the other ran in behind to take advantage of the vacant space).
The best example of their partnership arose ahead of Monaco’s second, however, where Boadu cleverly drew his man with a run to the right to open a horizontal gap in the Red Star backline for Ben Yedder to exploit. The diminutive forward then duly did with a smart angled run in behind to latch onto Eliot Matazo’s through ball and finish with clinical efficiency.
Full of class in his individual movement too, Ben Yedder’s runs in behind and down the channels were a big plus. Upon recognising a gap between defenders, if they stepped out of position or if he could expose them on the blindside, he pounced rapidly. It was also notable how he curved his runs down the channels when the opposition fullback stepped out to one of Monaco’s wingers.
Timing his runs so smoothly to peel off the back shoulder or directly target space within the Red Star block, this, in combination with his instinctive movement to evade markers in the area, compounded issues for his foes. Indeed, the graphics below (as well as the run for his second goal) illustrate his prowess here to get the jump on his adversaries to be a terrific option for the ball holder.
Choosing his moments when to drop deep with his back to goal coherently, this allowed him to form overloads in midfield, find room between the lines to turn and dribble or link play and lure opponents out of shape.
Being so strong on the ball, boasting superb ball control and possessing a low centre of gravity, the way he maintained possession while withstanding pressure to protect the ball and rode challenges was impressive from such scenarios.
Extremely adept at weaving away from danger, altering his receiving posture to shield the ball while waiting for an option and remaining composed to make good decisions, his resistance to pressure was notable.
How he beat opponents or unbalanced them with his slick dribbling was a further highlight. Be it using stepovers, shoulder drops, faked shots or passes and feints, the French international proved an elusive proposition.
A testament to his work here arose ahead of his opener, where he took down the ball smoothly before beating a marker with a neat piece of skill. He then found himself 1v1 with the keeper, where he craftily performed a deft faked shot, which put the keeper off to create room for Ben Yedder to finish between his legs.
The former Sevilla star’s passing deserved praise too, for not only did he link play confidently with his one and two touch interplay, but he threaded some incisive through balls to oblige runners and pinpointed teammates with some line breaking deliveries.
By the numbers, his 11 touches inside the box, eight duels won, five shots, four progressive runs, three dribbles, three shot assists and the fact he completed 19 of his 22 attempted passes aptly depicted his outstanding body of work.
When asked about Ben Yedder’s man of the match outing, coach Niko Kovac was full of praise for his captain and the role of his partner in crime Boadu. “Wissam is our number one striker, he is able to make the difference at any time,” he insisted.
“He did it today by scoring a brace and getting plenty of chances. For his part, Myron (Boadu) worked a lot and sacrificed himself for the collective. He made a lot of runs and opened some spaces. It was also him who created the gap for Wissam on the second goal. In any case, I am satisfied with their association. It’s very good.”
Bringing his goal tally to 11 in all competitions, the experienced forward continues to prove his worth even if he hasn’t always been in peak form this campaign. Clearly enjoying his excellent run at the moment, which has seen him bag five in his last seven games, he’ll be hoping to keep up his purple patch with a crunch game vs. Rennes on the horizon.
An absolute master of his craft and such an integral member of Monaco’s squad over the last two-and-a-half years, it was fitting he celebrated his milestone 100th game in fine style.