With the strains of the UEFA Champions League anthem still echoing around the Stade Louis-II, the opening quarter-hour of this opening fixture was a cagey affair as the teams felt each other out. Battle finally commenced in the 13th minute with Castro's off-target effort. AS Monaco's alert level went up a notch a minute later when Çalhanoglu found himself in space inside the penalty area, but the home supporters breathed a sigh of relief as Bayer's n°10 could only find the side netting.
With the Bundesliga leaders seemingly determined to take the game by the scruff of the neck after the half-hour, Bellarabi found himself one-on-one with Subasic, but completely fluffed his lines (36 mins)! Çalhanoglu then carved out another good chance, but failed to hit the target (42 mins). The Monaco defence was having a torrid time as Bayer pressed forward in search of the opening goal, but Heung-Min (43 mins) and Castro (44 mins) were wayward with their shooting and the scoreline was goalless as the referee blew for half-time. Somewhat to the relief of most of the crowd at the Louis-II.
AS Monaco turn the tables
The German side came out of the blocks quickly after the break, looking to impose their physical game on the Monegasques. But after weathering the storm the Red & Whites began to turn the tables on their visitors, Ferreira-Carrasco putting in an inviting cross that Kurzawa was just unable to convert (50 mins). On the hour mark, Leonardo Jardim withdrew Ocampos and sent on Silva for his home debut. The attacking midfielder wasted no time demonstrating his impeccable technique, but it was his countryman Joao Moutinho who made the crucial breakthrough.
Moutinho, a crucial first goal at home
With 62 minutes on the clock, Berbatov found Moutinho in the German area with a deft header, and the Portuguese took the ball in his stride, firing in a low shot that was deflected past the 'keeper by the unfortunate Spahic. It was Moutinho's first goal at the Stade Louis-II, and a crucial one at that. The Germans looked to mount a response, but Subasic was alert to the danger and came out of his goal to clear two deep through balls. Into the last ten minutes, and Ferreira Carrasco dribbled his way past Leno in the area, but saw his attempted pullback cut out. Although a second decisive goal proved elusive, the home side stayed defensively solid and saw out the game with a minimum of fuss.
A morale-boosting victory
This was a hard-fought win with a few heart-in-mouth moments, especially in the first half, but the victory is sure to lift spirits. It also leaves AS Monaco in a handy position in Group C, as they occupy second spot behind their next opponents, Zenit St-Petersburg, who earned an impressive win at Benfica (0-2). The Monegasques head to Russia on 1st October for their second game of this UEFA Champions League campaign, which already looks set to be a thriller! Daghe Munegu!