Against a Saint-Etienne side that lined up with their usual compact defence, AS Monaco got into their stride straight from the kick-off. They had the ball in Ruffier’s net in the 10th minute, but Traoré’s goal was correctly chalked off for offside. Moments later, Monnet-Paquet found himself all alone in front of the Monegasque goal, but his side-footed effort went well over (12 mins). Three minutes later, Roux looked to get on the end of a left-wing cross, but Carvalho beat the Saint-Etienne man to the ball (15 mins). In the 18th minute, Ruffier was saved buy his crossbar after Costa met a Dirar cross with an effort from close range!
Ruffier with a wonder save
After a lively opening, there was a slight lull in the tempo until around the half-hour. First Dirar and then Costa had the ball in the visitors’ penalty area, but Perrin got himself in the way of Traoré on both occasions (30 and 34 mins). Dirar was at it again on 38 minutes after nutmegging Polomat beautifully, but this time Bayal Sall was there with the tackle. With half-time approaching, the Red & Whites found another gear and Ruffier palmed a fine Moutinho strike behind for a corner in the 39th minute. Les Verts responded through former Monegasque man Kévin Malcuit, whose shot from an acute angle on the right found the side netting (40 mins). Saint-Etienne won another two corners before the half-time whistle, but AS Monaco’s defence were alert to the danger.
Malcuit sees red
Lemar had the first attempt on goal of the second half in the 47th minute, a stinging effort that flew just over the top. A couple of Monegasque corners then caused havoc in the visitors’ box, but Saint-Etienne survived (48 and 49 mins). In the 50th minute, Toulalan had a pop with a long range shot that saw a similar fate to Lemar’s earlier effort. The captain then found Dirar with a sweeping crossfield pass towards the edge of the Saint-Etienne area, but the Moroccan’s header flashed across goal with nobody able to get a touch (52 mins). Les Verts looked a little hesitant but carved out their first good chance of the afternoon with a set piece in the 55th minute, Monnet-Paquet sending in a header that shaved Nardi’s right-hand post. On the hour mark, Wallace almost broke the deadlock with a header from Lemar’s free kick, but once again the visitors’ defence dealt with the threat well. In the 64th minute, Malcuit picked up a second yellow card that meant Saint-Etienne would have to see out the rest of the game with ten men.
Fabinho converts from the spot!
Despite the pressure, Les Verts continued to hold out, with Ruffier pushing away a howitzer from Fabinho in the 80th minute. The former Monegasque ‘keeper then intervened to deny Costa, but Polomat handled the ball in the aftermath and the home side were correctly awarded a penalty. Fabinho beat Ruffier from the spot with a firmly-struck effort into the top corner to give his side the lead (82 mins). ASSE looked to find a way back into the game and Bayal Sall came close to equalising from a corner in the 85th minute. Fortunately, his header went wide of Nardi’s goal. With 89 minutes on the clock, Bayal Sall then came to the visitors’ rescue, beating Traoré to Lemar’s driven cross. But ultimately the Red & Whites had done enough to claim a precious win that takes them up to third place in Ligue 1 with just one league game left before the winter break!