Ligue 1, Round 14, 03/12/23
AS Monaco returned to winning ways in an exciting and open match against Montpellier HSC (2-0). Takumi Minamino and Wissam Ben Yedder got on the scoresheet for Les Monégasques.
After local rivals OGC Nice slipped up against FC Nantes the night before, Monaco had the chance to close the gap. Ad Hütter’s side have failed to convince in recent weeks and were therefore in need of points, but also the performance to match.
Monaco started well, controlled possession and deservedly took the lead in just the ninth minute. Ismail Jakobs did well down the left and found Vanderson with a good plan across the edge of the box. The Brazilian cut inside and drove a shot at Benjamin Lecomte. The former Monégasque shot-stopper could only parry and it was Minamino who reacted quickest to steer in the rebound.
Whilst Vanderson played a key role in the opener, who was almost responsible for the equaliser. He tried to be too clever when running back to goal and instead of playing the ball back to Philipp Köhn, he tried to dribble away from Musa Al-Taamari, who telegraphed the run and dispossessed. Köhn had to pull off a good save with his foot to keep the scores level.
Montpellier continued to look dangerous on the counter and Monaco looked ill-suited to dealing with it. Hütter labelled MHSC as “the best counter-attacking team in Ligue 1″ pre-match and they lived up to that reputation. The absence of Youssouf Fofana, ruled out through illness just hours before the game, certainly told and Mohamed Camara in particular was easily bypassed on multiple occasions as Montpellier carved the homeside open.
If not for some last-ditch heroics, Monaco could have gone in behind. Wilfried Singo, who was excellent throughout, was perfectly positioned to cut out a dangerous situation, whilst the Principality club also had to rely on Guillermo Maripán to make a goal-saving block from Akor Adams. With Köhn out of the picture, the Nigerian had the whole goal to aim for, but Maripán did well to make himself big. Camar also made a good block from Adams in the first half.
Monaco continued to carve out chances of their own in what was an open and entertaining match. Aleksandr Golovin was once again at the heart of the play and forced Lecomte into a good save, whilst Maghnes Akliouche also shot wide from a good position.
Folarin Balogun had the ball in the back of the net just before half-time but his neat chipped finish was ruled out for offside. The second half was more of a one-sided affair. Montpellier played in midweek and that exertion perhaps explains the drop-off in intensity from Michel Der Zakarian’s side.
Ismail Jakobs tested Lecomte with an effort from a tight angle before Golovin cut inside and hit the post. Boubakar Kouyaté’s red card, awarded for a clumsy studs-up tackle on Minamino looked to put pay to MHSC’s chances of taking any points away from the Stade Louis II.
However, Monaco had to overcome a couple of scares. Al-Taamari thought he had earned Montpellier a route back into the match after drawing a foul from Jakobs in the box, but it was ruled out for a tight offside. The Jordanian who was central to Montpellier’s attacking efforts, then capitalised on a clumsy Maripán pass to get a shot off at goal. It was Sing who was in the right place to deflect the goal-bound shot to safety.
However, Monaco ensured the points in the dying stage. Substitute Ben Yedder robbed Téji Savanier in possession deep inside the Montpellier half, took a touch and finished emphatically past Lecomte. Monaco secure their first victory since 5th November and close the gap to second-placed OGC Nice to just two points.
Monaco player ratings
Philipp Köhn – 6
Ismail Jakobs – 5
Guillermo Maripan – 5
Wilfried Singo – 8
Monaco’s best defender this season was at his best once again. The Ivory Coast international is a wing-back by trade, but for the first time since his arrival, he was asked to play as a centre-back in a back four. He rose to the occasion, covering well, dominating aerially and beating the press on several occasions. His positioning on one of Montpellier’s counters saved what would have been a golden opportunity. The absent midfield forced Singo to step up and play a key role, and he was more than up to the task.
Vanderson – 5
Offensively, it was a strong showing from the Brazilian full-back, who often found himself in good positions and used the ball to good effect, but he was found wanting defensively, notably making the poor decision to dribble himself out of trouble against Al-Taamari.
Denis Zakaria – 6
Mohamed Camara – 4
Aleksandr Golovin – 7
Hütter has called the Russian playmaker one of the best players in Ligue 1 and he showed why once again. He was excellent at linking up with his teammates in tight spaces and almost got on the scoresheet. He was first denied by a flying Lecomte save and then the post.
Maghnes Akliouche – 5
Takumi Minamino – 7
Folarin Balogun – 5
Montpellier selected player ratings
Mousa Al-Taamari – 6
At the centre of everything for Montpellier. He made dangerous runs in behind the defence all day and was unselfish in laying off others to score. Those decisions were the correct ones to make, even if his teammates couldn’t find the back of the net.
Akor Adams – 4
Wahbi Khazri – 5
GFFN | Luke Entwistle