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Review

Ligue 1: AS Monaco moves into second with vital victory over Brest

AS Monaco recorded a terrific win over Stade Brestois, as they not only continued their excellent away form, but also propelled themselves into second in the Ligue 1 standings under the watchful eyes of President Dmitry Rybolovlev.

The Match

In a game that pitted third against second in the table, Adi Hutter opted for a three at the back shape and picked a strong squad, despite the likes of Aleksandr Golovin, Ismail Jakobs and Thilo Kehrer missing through injuries and suspension in the case of the latter, as his team were right up for the challenge from the off.

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@ASM

Having not played in two weeks, the well-rested Monaco started the match with gusto, offering plenty going forward while pressing their foes with intensity.

With quality chances hard to come by in this encounter even though Mohammed Salisu and Youssouf Fofana tried their best, it appeared a moment of magic would be needed to break the deadlock. Denis Zakaria duly provided it courtesy of his amazing strike from the edge of the box just before the interval to power Les Monegasques ahead.

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Up 0-1 at the break on the road, all was still to play for at the Stade Francis Le Ble, and ASM began the second stanza impressively. Although Takumi Minamino spurned his early chance, he made no mistake with his next opening, with his goal eventually allowed following a VAR ruling.

In control and with a comfortable lead, Monaco importantly kept their focus in and out of possession for the next period to keep Brest at bay.

Folarin Balogun was then presented with a fine chance, but failed to outfox Marco Bizot, who rushed out with aplomb to deny the USMNT star.

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With victory in reach, Hutter introduced Breel Embolo for his first game back in eight months after his nasty knee injury.

Frustratingly, the closing stages of the match descended into chaos, for Eliesse Ben Seghir and Wilfried Singo received red cards for their roles in a late scuffle between the two teams.

When the dust settled and the final whistle blew, it was Monaco that reigned supreme to leapfrog their fellow Champions League chasers into second in front of around 400 Monegasques fans, who were present to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Ultras.

Hutter’s Debrief

“In the first half, we saw two teams defend very well. For our part, we had some problems using the ball well, which meant we didn’t have many scoring opportunities. Despite everything, I think we opened the scoring at the best moment, after a great attack just before half-time. Over the entire 90 minutes, we deserved to win, in my opinion. This is a great step forward for us,” insisted the Austrian manager.

“I repeat, it is a very good thing to have been able to win here in Brest, where it is never easy to come and win. Their last defeat in their stadium was on October 29 against Paris Saint-Germain, which I had the opportunity to watch (a game they more deserved a draw or even a victory in).”

Hutter then added this on his decision to deploy a three-man backline: “We chose to play with a three-man defence, because Brest is the best team in Ligue 1 on crosses. They certainly have the leading player in the championship with Steve Mounie. With three imposing players in the middle, we had the means to respond, and I think we defended well as a team. Then I decided to put Krepin Diatta in the left lane, who has more experience than Kassoum Ouattara in these important meetings. It was a good option in hindsight, since it was decisive.”

Key Stats

By the numbers, despite being behind in possession, total shots, passes in the opposition half and overall duels won, the fact ASM held the ascendancy in terms of expected goals (1.07 to 0.65), big chances created (2 to 0) and shots on target (3 to 2) showed their attacking qualities were the key difference maker.

Lille Awaits

The big games keep on coming for Monaco, as they now swiftly turn their attention to their colossal clash with fourth-placed Lille on Wednesday, where another triumph would be a massive step in their pursuit of Champions League qualification.