Looking down and out at 2-0 down with their Champions League qualification hopes hanging on a knife-edge, AS Monaco produced a truly sensational comeback to defeat Brest 4-2.
On the penultimate match day of Ligue 1, under the eyes of Prince Albert II and President Dmitry Rybolovlev, Monaco made life hard for themselves by getting off to a shocking start. Going behind inside 10 minutes when Jean-Kevin Duverne netted from a slick corner routine, Brest were clearly right up for the challenge of taking on Monaco at the Stade Louis II.
Monaco then immediately looked to get back on level terms, though, as Axel Disasi hit the woodwork and came close shortly after but for his effort to be saved on the line. Disaster then struck shortly after, with Youcef Belaili doubling the lead for the visitors in the 23th minute with a mesmerising solo effort.
With it all to do to get back into the match, Monaco began to stamp their mark on proceedings by creating some promising chances. They were eventually rewarded just before the interval when Wissam Ben Yedder gave his team a lifeline by calmly converting a penalty that arose from Belaili’s handball.
Coming out for the second half with determination and desperate for victory, their inspirational captain quickly ensured his team drew level six minutes in courtesy of an instinctive finish from the edge of the box.
Ben Yedder then flexed his muscles again to give Monaco the lead and complete his hattrick with a sharp header on 55 minutes. Kevin Volland then secured all three points 20 minutes from time by finding the back of the net following Ben Yedder’s deflected shot.
In what was a remarkable, action packed fixture, the triumph not only saw Les Monegasques extend their magical winning streak to nine but also move into second on the table due to Marseille losing to Rennes. Considering they’d provisionally dropped to fifth in the standings early on before their scintillating comeback, it was certainly an exceptional night at the office for Monaco.
“We always believed we could win. We did not start this match well, the players were tense, lacked initiative in construction and aggressiveness in duels. It’s not easy to be down 2-0 but we never gave up. A few months ago, we would have lost this match, but here we reacted well and we deserved to win,” explained a proud Philippe Clement.
“About ten days ago, after Real Madrid’s recent comeback against Manchester City, I showed some images to my players to explain to them that they still had to believe in it. I want players who push themselves to the limit, without losing confidence, without getting distracted. We are a team that can score two or three goals in just a few minutes, like Real, and I mentioned that at half time.”
Although they faced some early adversity, the numbers illustrate how impressively Monaco recovered, for they bettered their opponents in terms of possession (57% to 43%), expected goals (3.84 to 2.07), total shots (25 to 10), shots on target (9 to 5), corners (10 to 5), tackles won (17 to 11) and duels won (63 to 42).
Ben Yedder heroics
What a memorable night it was for Ben Yedder, with his first hattrick of the campaign almost single handedly lifting his team to victory. Showing why he’s one of the elite marksmen in European football, the experienced French international came up big when his team needed him most.
Displaying his intelligent movement, poaching instincts and exemplary finishing, his triple also impressively moves him up to 24 league goals for the campaign, just one behind Kylian Mbappe in the Ligue 1 top scoring charts. A great way to celebrate the birth of his son Ayden.
Grandstand finish awaits
With just one game left in the season and their destiny in their own hands, Monaco face off with Lens to end their crusade, just as they did last term. So close to achieving their aim of locking in Champions League qualification, claiming victory over Lens, which would be their 10th straight, would be the perfect way to end their season.
“We will play a sort of final on Saturday, but we have nothing to lose. Being second shouldn’t change anything in our minds, we still have to give our all to win this game. Today I didn’t want us to worry about the results of our direct competitors, but maybe on Saturday it will be the case in the last minutes,” Clement asserted.