The last of the day’s sunshine was bathing the Principality as this postponed matchday 25 fixture got under way. Lining up against a defensively solid Montpellier outfit, the Red & Whites were marginally on top for the first fifteen minutes, without creating any clear chances. On 18 minutes, the visitors earned the first dangerous opening of the evening with a free-kick in a good position about 20 yards out. Dabo’s effort beat the wall but skimmed Subasic’s right-hand post. Martial then burst into the right-hand side of the Montpellier penalty area, but Dirar was unable to convert his cut-back (21 mins). On 27 minutes, Abdennour’s pass meant for Moutinho was intercepted by Sanson. The U21 international tried his luck from the edge of the box, Subasic beating his effort out to the feet of Barrios. Luckily, the Paraguayan was caught by surprise and was unable to control the ball.
Kurzawa’s celebrations cut short
On the half-hour mark, Carrasco was scythed down on the edge of the area, out wide on the left. The Belgian took the free-kick himself, but saw his effort deflected behind, and the resulting corner came to nothing. Carrasco was back in the thick of the action moments later, pulling back a cross for Martial, who was beaten to the ball on the penalty spot. With five minutes remaining until the break, Martial won another free-kick, but this time Jourdren comfortably blocked Kurzawa’s strike. AS Monaco upped the tempo and Silva saw his effort blocked in extremis (42 mins). In the 44th minute, Kurzawa had the ball in the net, heading in a Carrasco free-kick, but was correctly called off-side. Just as the home side were building up a head of steam, match referee Mr Ennjimi blew for half-time, signalling the end of a timid first half from both teams.
Barrios misses from the penalty spot
The second half was only five minutes old when Montpellier were awarded a penalty following Dirar’s foul on Dabo on the edge of the AS Monaco box (50 mins). Barrios faced Subasic, but put his effort over the Croatian keeper’s crossbar! It spurred the Monegasques into action, and from that point the home side began to impose themselves on proceedings. On 60 minutes, Berbatov came on in place of Dirar and Leonardo Jardim made a tactical switch to 4-4-2. The pattern of the game turned on its head, as AS Monaco began to mount wave on wave of attacks. In the 70th minute, the Montpellier wall deflected a well-placed Moutinho free-kick, before Jourdren climbed high to clear first a corner and then a cross from Carrasco.
AS Monaco get no reward for their dominance
With the game heading into the final quarter-hour, Toulalan had a go from long-range after Montpellier cleared another corner, but saw his strike flash past Jourdren’s left-hand post. Having failed to make the most of several promising situations, Carrasco was replaced by Matheus on 78 minutes. No sooner had he come on, than the substitute combined with Martial, whose cross struck the hand of Marveaux in the box. Mr Ennjimi was unmoved. Moments later, Fabinho pulled the ball back to Silva but the Portuguese midfielder’s powerful shot was blocked by Jourdren. The Montpellier goal came under assault against on 83 minutes, as Kurzawa hammered in a shot off target. AS Monaco followed up with a corner, but once more it came to nothing against an uncompromising defence. Regulatory time was over when Berbatov was caught just outside the penalty area. Once again, the wall stood firm, before Fabinho put a shot into the Fontvieille sky. The match ended goalless, as AS Monaco missed the chance to draw level with OM. With seven games remaining, the Red & Whites are now two points off the top three in Ligue 1.