The start of this game was summed up by two Corsican free kicks. The first was a driven effort by Djokovic from a central position some 25 yards from the Monaco goal, which sailed well over the top (5 mins). The second, taken from wide out on the left three minutes later, produced the opener for Ajaccio. The quick-thinking Larbi took the kick quickly and found the head of Boutaïb, who plated the ball past Subasic. Yet to really get going in the game, the Red & Whites were already a goal down... An comfortable situation was not made any easier as they found themselves pressed by the visitors all over the pitch. Not until the 20th minute did AS Monaco fashion their first half-chance. From a Toulalan long ball, Costa seized on a deflection by Carrillo in the box, but saw the ball nicked off his toes by Mandanne as he shaped to shoot.
Tshibumbu doubles Ajaccio’s advantage
With no attacking outlet, the Red & Whites struggled to turn the tide and fell further behind in the 32nd minute, following a lightning counter-attack. Larbi got free down the left and drove deep into the Monaco half, before finding Tshibumbu on the penalty spot. The Congolese striker slid in to give Subasic no chance. It was all going perfectly for the ecstatic Corsicans, with AS Monaco very much on the ropes. The home side went in at the break without having registered a single shot, a stat that just about summed up their opening forty-five minutes. Clearly much more would be needed against an Ajaccio side as dogged as they were organised.
Fabinho reignites Monegasque hopes
Leonardo Jardim’s men emerged for the second half determined to get back into it quickly, and started well when Fabinho won and converted a penalty, his sixth of the season, and his fourth in Ligue 1. With 50 minutes gone, AS Monaco’s hopes were lifted. Ajaccio continued to look dangerous, with Djokovic sending in a powerful volley that shaved Subasic’s right-hand post (52 mins), but the Red & Whites were finally taking the game by the scruff of the neck. They were close to an equaliser in the 61st minute, when Carrillo got his head to Costa’s cross. He made perfect contact with the ball and Maury was beaten, but the Argentine’s effort cannoned back off the bar! With the home side now well on top, Gazélec were creaking but stood firm. Silva, on as a substitute for Costa, pulled back a good cross for Moutinho in the 70th minute, but his compatriot was unable to find the target with his side-footed strike.
Carvalho off the mark
Maury then pulled off an incredible stop to keep out a thunderbolt from Fabinho, but from the resulting corner Carvalho headed in to level the scores (74 mins). It was the Portugese defender’s first goal in Red & White, and threw the game wide open with a good fifteen minutes still to play. IN the 80th minute, Maury put himself in the way of another Carrill header, following a fine right-wing cross from Dirar. Moments later, the Moroccan was replaced by Bahlouli, who tried a lob from fully 60 yards that wasn’t far from dropping in (84 mins). Despite those two attempts, the Monegasque pressure dropped a notch in the closing stages of the game. Ajaccio took advantage to mount a few counter-attacks that came to nothing, and after Coentrao sent in one last free kick that found no takers, the full time whistle went with the sides all square. Next up for AS Monaco are Lorient, next Sunday.