AS Monaco ensured their progression into the quarter finals of the Coupe de France with a thrilling 4-2 victory over Lens.
Although Lens got off to a promising start against an undermanned Monaco squad, it didn’t take long for Philippe Clement’s men to flex their muscles. Going ahead in the 18th minute when Wissam Ben Yedder applied a cool finish to Caio Henrique’s brilliant cross, this was the catalyst for the away team to find their groove.
Shooting out to a 3-0 lead before the half hour mark, with Jean Lucas and Sofiane Diop adding to the tally, Lens were stunned by Monaco’s 11 minute purple patch.
With Monaco seemingly headed for a comfortable victory, Weslay Said gave the home team a lifeline by pulling a goal back just before the interval. Les Sang et Or then continued their momentum into the second half, as Arnaud Kalimuendo scored a beauty from the edge of the box in the 53rd minute.
As the match wore on, both teams produced promising openings, with Monaco ultimately going on to seal the victory through a clinical finish from Ben Yedder at the death.
Putting in a tremendous display that featured many amazing saves, Vito Mannone was certainly one of the heroes of the night for Les Monegasques. Making a host of crucial second half stops to ensure Monaco kept ahead, the Italian shot stopper was unquestionably an integral component towards the win.
“It’s true that there were a lot of Lens strikes to negotiate,” he explained after the match.
“I knew before the meeting that Seko Fofana is a midfielder who tries his luck a lot, for example. There are quality players in this team, including Arnaud Kalimuendo who was very dangerous in the second period. In these kinds of matches, you have to stay focused at all times, because you know that anything can happen on either side.”
He then added: “I had seen Lens’ performance against Lille, with their turnaround at the very end of the match. This team is very strong at home. I think that if I finish the first half with a clean sheet, I enjoy a more serene second period. We conceded this goal in the 45th minute, which is unfortunate. But the most important thing is our qualification for the quarters.”
Tchouameni shines again
Monaco’s supremely talented youngster served up yet another masterclass in central midfield, in a match where he shone on both sides of the ball. Not only did he supply a wonderful assist and passed the ball smoothly, but he also chimed in with a plethora of defensive interventions to break up play and recover possession for his team.
By the numbers, his three key passes, two shots, 36 accurate passes, two dribbles, 12 ball recoveries, five interceptions, four clearances and two won aerial duels demonstrated his colossal body of work.
“He is a great talent, a great player. He can still train and improve more I think, because he is very young. He must continue like this, work hard and believe in his qualities. He is very strong physically. He’s one of the best at loose ball pick-ups, he does the team a lot of good,” aptly noted Mannone in his post match comments.
The big games keep coming for Monaco, as they welcome Lyon to the Stade Louis II next weekend, which looms as a pivotal clash in their hopes to propel themselves back up the Ligue 1 table towards the Champions League qualification spots.