Having not won in almost a month heading into their clash with Montpellier, AS Monaco were desperate to return to winning ways when they welcomed La Paillade to the Stade Louis II. And that’s exactly what they did by reigning triumphant 2-0 in a hotly contested fixture between two strong outfits.
Opting to switch things up for this encounter, Adi Hutter went for a back four, which featured a backline of Vanderson, Ismail Jakobs, Guillermo Maripan and Wilfried Singo.
Getting off to a brilliant start, ASM raced to an early lead through Takumi Minamino, who reacted smartly to the rebound from Vanderson’s shot to beat former Monaco keeper Benjamin Lecomte to bank his fifth goal of the season.
Montpellier then responded by unleashing a flurry of chances, but the home team held firm before Aleksandr Golovin fired wide and Folarin Balogun had a goal chalked off for offside.
Further opportunities flowed for both teams in this open match until the half-time whistle blew, with ASM holding a slender advantage against a Montpellier side that were frustrated not to be level at the interval.
Enter the second half, and Ismail Jakobs got the ball rolling for Les Monegasques with a crisp blast that was tidily saved. Keen to double their advantage, Balogun, Minamino and Golovin all came close to doing so, but ultimately came up short.
The visitors were then dealt a blow when Kiki Kouyate was sent off for a nasty tackle on Minamino with roughly 20 minutes to go.
It wasn’t all plain sailing to end the match for ASM, though, for Mousa Al-Tamari still provided a major threat with his crafty attacking play and even won a penalty only for it to be denied due to offside.
In the end, Hutter’s men secured all three points when Wissam Ben Yedder scored late, which saw him bag his sixth this term and his 100th home goal for the club in league action.
“To be honest, it was a victory that was difficult to achieve, with big disparities between the two halves. We started well by opening the scoring thanks to Taki, but we suffered a lot afterwards. Philipp was forced to make some great saves and the defence made some last-minute stops,” he insisted.
“We were not at the expected level and we made too many easy mistakes, which led to very clear chances for Montpellier. In the second half we played differently, and it was better. It’s always good to win again after two games without a win. So I remember that we got all three points this evening. But the most important thing today is the result, and once again I want to remember our second half more. Of course we were lucky not to concede a goal, but in the end we got another clean sheet.”
By the numbers, the fact ASM held the ascendancy in terms of expected goals (2.19 to 0.78), total shots (27 to 9), shots on target (9 to 4), shots inside the box (18 to 6), possession (64% to 36%), passes in the opposition half (272 to 93) and duels won (65 to 56) illustrated what a force they were going forward especially.
Following this much-needed victory, Monaco consolidated their third place in the standings and moved within two points of OGC Nice. Next on the agenda for Les Rouge et Blanc is a trip to struggling Rennes, where they’ll be doing everything in their power to extend their winning streak to two.