AS Monaco’s three game winning streak came to an end after losing 1-0 to Ferencvaros in the Europa League.
With the matches coming thick and fast, Monaco began the game looking a touch off the pace, taking their time to find their rhythm against the Hungarian champions. Although Wissam Ben Yedder fired off an early effort, the away team looked the more dangerous, even having a goal chalked off by VAR 20 minutes in.
Then, just 12 minutes later, Alexander Nubel produced a masterful save to keep out Adama Traore’s shot, as Les Monegasques were performing far below their capabilities. The German netminder’s heroics between the posts continued for the rest of the opening stanza, with him flexing his muscles further to ensure the game remained 0-0 at the break.
Opting to make some changes at half time, Philippe Clement’s decision to introduce Ruben Aguilar and Maghnes Akliouche, who added far more dynamism and intensity to the exertions down the right, proved an inspired one.
Hitting their stride and dominating the second half, Monaco exerted control and looked a far greater force going forward, with the gifted Akliouche particularly wreaking havoc.
Despite generating some promising attacking sequences and Akliouche almost earning a penalty, it was Ferencvaros who ultimately grabbed a winner against the run of play through Balint Vecsei 10 minutes from time to propel them to victory, as ASM were unable to find a late leveller.
“We lacked realism tonight, and in Europe that’s a very important thing,” a frustrated Clement insisted.
“In the first half, our pace of play was not high enough. We upped our tempo when we got back from the locker room, pushing a lot. And we get chances that have to turn into goals, like Ismail’s strike against the goalkeeper. But Ferencvaros have shown that they are a very strong team in transition, as they did with their victory at Trabzonspor last week. At the moment, with efficiency you can win matches, but without this it’s difficult. We weren’t clinical enough in the opposing 16 yards.
“We dominated a lot in the second half, having possession of the ball and the best opportunities. Unfortunately, we lack this part of success in the last gesture.
“Today we deserved at least a draw, but unfortunately this is not the case at the finish. We may have dropped a joker, but we still have four games to react and secure our qualification.”
Akliouche stamps his mark
Injecting plenty of energy and impetus since entering the fray at the interval, the 20-year-old brought so much to the table with his movement, driving dribbles and unpredictability.
Aside from almost winning a penalty for Le Rouge et Blanc, his uplifting cameo was punctuated by his three successful dribbles, two chances created, two accurate crosses, one shot and six ball recoveries on the defensive end.
“He has proven in recent weeks in training that he deserves his chance. He had already made a good entry against Paris. Yet it’s not easy, because there is a lot of competition in this sector of play. But he deserved to play tonight, and he was dangerous. He made the right choices offensively, bringing his technical quality, and also provided defensive efforts,” explained his Belgian manager.
“He is a player who can become very important for AS Monaco in the coming years. Even if you have to give him time, like all those young people starting out in pro, and who need to express themselves and gain experience.”
By the numbers
Bettering their foes in terms of expected goals (1.11 to 0.53), possession (57% to 43%), total shots (13 to 8), shots inside the box (10 to 4), passes in the opposition half (254 to 98) and tackles won (14 to 9), Monaco were disappointingly left unrewarded.
Reims on the horizon
Up next for Monaco is an away trip to Reims, where they’ll be eager to head into the international break on a high after this setback to close the gap to the frontrunners in Ligue 1.