Despite roaring out to a two goal lead in the first half, AS Monaco were ultimately eliminated from the Coupe de France by Rodez, who produced an incredible comeback to progress via a dramatic penalty shootout.
Eager to make it three consecutive wins since resuming their season after the World Cup break, Philippe Clement picked a strong team that had a nice blend of youth and experience.
With Monaco jumping out of the blocks, the Belgian manager’s selection paid dividends early, as gifted youngster Maghnes Akliouche gave ASM the lead in the 23rd minute.
Looking threatening and in control, the home team then doubled their advantage 14 minutes later through Wissam Ben Yedder, who smartly converted Ismail Jakobs’ delivery.
Desperate to respond immediately, Rodez did exactly that when Joseph Mendes headed home past ASM debutant in goal Thomas Didillon to halve the deficit just before the break.
Looking reasonably comfortable and with the result in their hands, it was admirable how Monaco began the second stanza with gusto, hoping to secure the victory, as Akliouche had two brilliant chances to restore their ascendancy further.
Having failed to capitalise on their opportunities, they were consequently made to pay when Rodez, who grew in confidence as the match progressed, bagged a 80th minute leveller through former ASM man Aymen Abdennour.
Although both teams had some presentable chances to propel themselves to victory at the death, the match headed to a dreaded penalty shootout, where Rodez prevailed to complete their remarkable recovery against one of the powerhouses of French football in Monaco.
Cutting an extremely disappointed figure after the match, Clement’s frustration was clear to see in his post-match comments, lamenting: “This is unacceptable, I must say that I am quite pissed off. However, I saw good things in the first hour.
“But we take a goal on Rodez’s only opportunity in the first period, and instantly the striker is alone to score. The start of the second was good, we even had the opportunity to put in the third, but the goalkeeper made good saves. In the last 25 minutes, I didn’t recognise the face of my team. And then at the end of the game we take this second goal, which was difficult to digest because the result is not deserved.
“We know that penalties are always complicated. One of the best players of recent months misses his attempt and behind a youngster takes responsibility. There are many great players who have missed penalties, most recently at the World Cup. Above all, I have to talk to my players to find out what’s been on their minds, to explain this end to the match that slipped away from us. We have to be decisive in these moments.”
By the numbers, Monaco’s overall ascendancy was illustrated by the fact they bettered their foes in terms of possession (63% to 37%), total shots (19 to 10), shots on target (10 to 4), shots inside the box (15 to 9), passes in the opposition half (295 to 98) and overall duels won (40 to 36).
Up next for AS Monaco is a tough Ligue 1 road clash with sixth placed Lorient on Wednesday, where they’ll be looking to immediately return to winning ways after this shock upset.