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Review

Europa League: AS Monaco triumph in a thriller vs. Leverkusen

ASM
© AS Monaco

AS Monaco recorded a thrilling 3-2 victory over Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League, in a match where they produced a scintillating comeback to win at the death.

The Match

Fresh from defeating Paris Saint-Germain at the weekend, ASM came into this colossal away clash riding the crest of a wave. And they crucially carried their momentum into this match, as they applied early pressure on Die Werkself before taking the lead inside 10 minutes when Lukas Hradecky fumbled the ball into his own net.

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The home side then began to stamp their mark after their unsatisfactory start, for Moussa Diaby fired in a teasing effort. The two teams then exchanged chances, as the free flowing Aleksandr Golovin grazed the post for Les Monegasques while Adam Hlozek and Diaby launched shots of their own.

Although Exequiel Palacios and Robert Andrich tried to draw Leverkusen level near the interval, it would be Monaco who held a 1-0 ascendancy at the break. But it wouldn’t last long, for Diaby levelled the ledger just after half-time.

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Putting ASM under heavy pressure, Xabi Alonso’s men impressively kicked into the gear and were looking by far the more dangerous side. Creating chances coherently, it appeared it was only a matter of time before Leverkusen jumped ahead. And so it proved, as wonderkid Florian Wirtz brilliantly propelled his team into the lead near the hour mark.

This, in combination with Philippe Clement’s changes, then proved the catalyst to eventually spark Monaco back into life. Going from hunted to the hunter, there was much to admire about how ASM turned things around firstly through Krepin Diatta’s screamer and then via Axel Disasi’s venomous late thunderbolt to secure a sensational victory.

Clement’s Debrief

“Yesterday I said it could be a spectacular game,” Clement recalled. “This was the case thanks to the two teams that played to win. We had a good first period by creating the best chances. We were rewarded with a goal and the goalkeeper made a nice save on a strike from Krepin. But in the second half, they started very strong, and when you score after two minutes, you have a surplus of energy.

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“Leverkusen stayed high, it was difficult at that time. We conceded the second goal, but I’m very happy to have had this ability to react because overthrowing Leverkusen here, when you’re down 2-1, is difficult. But we scored that 2-2 goal while then creating chances. I am very proud of my players, they played to win. They brought about success through an exceptional mentality. I want to see my team play like this every game.

“I hope that this mentality and this performance will encourage fans to come to Stade Louis II to support my players. It is very important that there is a lot of encouragement. I still expect a great game since you could see that Leverkusen had great players and a great team. To score here three times against a side that have had four clean sheets in their last five games is something big. But we have to stay focused, first on Brest then on Leverkusen.”

Brest on the horizon

Following their exceptional effort to win the first leg, up next for Monaco is a clash with Brest before they turn their focus to the second leg vs. Leverkusen at the Stade Louis II.

ASM supporters leave their mark

Everywhere, always. With nearly 500 supporters present in the industrial city and in the passageways of the BayArena, Philippe Clement’s men were cheered on as they should be for more than 90 minutes, before celebrating this success as close as possible to their supporters at the bottom of the visitor parking.

A few hours before kick-off, the faithful of AS Monaco had already made themselves heard in the streets of Leverkusen. And when the red and white procession headed for the stadium, the entire city of the pharmaceutical giant Bayer vibrated to the rhythm of Monegasque songs.

Unwavering in their support until the end of the night, they proved once again that these European games occupy a special place in the hearts of ASM supporters.

Clement then fittingly made a point of praising the loyal fans in attendance, stating: “I was also very proud and very happy with the outstanding support from our supporters here. They put a lot of atmosphere before the match and that gave a lot of energy to the players. These are very important things for us, the staff and the club. Having so much encouragement is very important.”