While AS Monaco dominated possession early on, the first shot came from Qarabag as Dani met a deep cross from the left of the Monegasque penalty area, but was unable to direct his effort on target (3 mins). In the 7th minute, Sehic picked up a back pass, giving AS Monaco a great opportunity to open the scoring. Faced with a huge defensive wall, El Shaarawy sent his strike over the top (7 mins). Qarabag were looking to exploit the slightest opening and threatened again in the 13th minute, but Subasic beat away a thunderbolt from Armenteros.
A disjointed pattern of play
On the right wing, Fabinho and Silva were doing their best to inject some vibrancy into proceedings, but their crosses were dealt with by an alert defence in the 26th minute. As the half-hour mark passed, El Shaarawy surged forward to meet a fine Silva cross fro the right, powering in a header that skimmed the top of Sehic’s crossbar! The end of the first half was littered with Qarabag fouls in the midfield, enough to break up the rhythm of a first half in which chances were few and far between. Half-time arrived with the scoreline still goalless. The frustrated supporters made their discontent heard as the teams headed back to the dressing rooms.
Subasic with a crucial contribution!
After the break, the Red & Whites upped the tempo. From a good cross by Fabinho, El Shaarawy flicked a header towards goal but saw his effort flash past the far post (53 mins). Raggi then went down in front of Sehic’s goal, only to be denied a penalty despite Ismayilov having a handful of his shirt (55 mins). Qarabag were being pressed back but still went close to breaking the deadlock in the 67th minute as Subasic pushed out a long range effort straight into the path of Chumbinho. The Croatian ‘keeper was still on the ground but somehow managed to throw himself at the Brazilian’s feet and prevent him from bagging the opener! Having come so close to going behind, AS Monaco went straight up the other end and took the lead themselves.
Traoré makes the breakthrough
Moutinho intercepted the ball in the oppposition half and fed El Shaarawy, who darted towards goal and slid in Traoré down the left-hand side of the box. With just Sehic to beat, the Ivorian held his nerve and slotted the ball into the corner to secure the long-awaited opening goal (70 mins)! Pasalic nearly notched a second in the 78th minute, but his diving header could only find the side netting. AS Monaco controlled the latter stages of the game, but still had to contend with a Chumbinho free kick. The wall did its job, but Sadygov collected the rebound and sent a shot that took a deflection off a Monegasque leg and skimmed Subasic’s right-hand post. That was to be the final chance of the evening, as the Red & Whites claimed their first victory in the UEFA Europa League and took advantage of Tottenham’s defeat at Anderlecht (2-1) to take top spot in Group J with three games played!