Eliesse Ben Seghir’s sensational Ligue 1 debut for AS Monaco was the stuff of dreams, as the gifted 17-year-old came on at half-time to propel his team to a thrilling win by virtue of his brilliant brace.
With Monaco in desperate need of some inspiration and incision following an underwhelming first period, Ben Seghir provided precisely this, as his game changing cameo powered Philippe Clement’s men to a crucial 3-2 victory.
Having firstly found the back of the net within 13 minutes of entering the field with a clinical finish to open his account, he then capped off his exceptional bow by blasting home a spectacular long range screamer to secure all three points five minutes from time.
The following statistics from Monaco’s official website aptly illustrate just what a historic night at the office he enjoyed, as they state: “Eliesse Ben Seghir is the youngest player to score twice in his first Ligue 1 match in the last 75 years and the first over that period to achieve this before his 18th birthday (17 years and 10 months).
“He also becomes, at 17 years and 10 months, the fifth youngest player to score for AS Monaco in Ligue 1 behind Kylian Mbappe, Pietro Pellegri, Thierry Henry and Benoit Badiashile. Moreover, he also became the second youngest to score a double in L1 for the Principality club since Thierry Henry (17 years and 8 months) in 1995.”
Handling the pressure and occasion with aplomb, the classy attacker emphatically vindicated his manager’s decision to introduce him, with his immense impact underlining what a special talent he is.
Slotting into what was ostensibly a number 10 role that granted him plenty of positional freedom, Ben Seghir’s intelligent movement served as a strong foundation from which to wreak havoc.
Doing a terrific job of connecting midfield and attack, the way he found space between the lines was a joy to watch, as his frequent head scanning ensured he had a regularly updated mental imagery of his surroundings to get free or form overloads in midfield.
With the likes of Breel Embolo, Aleksandr Golovin and Gelson Martins often pinning or occupying defenders, this ensured he could not only inherit possession unmarked but also that he could immediately turn.
Hia slick rotations with Embolo and the nominal wingers also caught the eye, with these ensuring Auxerre were faced with dilemmas on who should mark who in what zone while allowing him to facilitate third man combinations and embark on nifty runs down the channels and in behind.
Indeed, the fact both of his goals arose following sharp interchanges with Golovin illustrated the value of these mechanics.
Dovetailing superbly with his offensive colleagues and so aware of vacant spaces around him, the always buzzing and probing Ben Seghir’s movement was a joy to watch.
Switching the focus to his output with the ball at his feet and his inventive dribbling and passing amplified his menace. To start with his dribbling, and his crisp first touch and ball control, in combination with his wicked array of manoeuvres to outfox foes, including nifty feints, shimmies, stepovers, stop gos and razor sharp changes of pace and direction compounded issues for his opponents.
Balanced, strong and boasting a low centre of gravity, the way he admirably rode challenges and withstood pressure also warranted mention.
Meanwhile, when it came to his distribution, there were many glimpses of his creativity and prowess here, for he engaged in some wonderful interplay in close quarters, threaded some measured through balls and struck some classy first-time passes.
By the numbers, his 14 accurate passes, five duels won, four dribbles, three shots, three touches inside the area, three accurate passes into the final third one shot assist punctuated his influential 45 minutes.
Monaco manager, Clement, was rightfully full of praise for the youngster when speaking after the match, making a point of mentioning that he knew Ben Seghir was capable of such exploits.
“It’s not a surprise for me, because he shows very good things in training with us. We are a team, a club that gives young players a chance. Eliesse is only 17 years old, but when you prove so much during the sessions, the age doesn’t matter. He deserved to have his chance today, because he’s had a good preparation in recent weeks with us, and in friendly matches. We are happy with what he did tonight, even if he naturally has a lot of room for improvement,” he insisted.
“For me it was not his first match, because he had returned against Belgrade in the Europa League. He also played in preparation against Fiorentina (1-1), Leeds United (4-2 success) and Cercle Brugge. He is someone who can bring dynamism and energy to the team. It was important in this match to have a player like that.”
The challenge looking ahead for Ben Seghir, who signed his first professional contract in the summer, will now be building on this magical night and to keep progressing in his quest to obtain further vital minutes and experience.
Whatever happens, though, in what looms as an extremely bright future ahead, Ben Seghir will always remember his unforgettable Ligue 1 debut, which he marked in the most scintillating style to propel his team to victory.