Penalty not given...
Despite a nervy start from Les Rouge et Blanc, it was the home side that carved out the first chance of the match in the third minute. Rivière crossed from the right and the ball clearly struck a Valenciennes hand, only for the referee, Mr Thual, to wave play on. Martial then earned an excellent free-kick, but Moutinho's effort was blocked by the wall. The first VAFC opportunity came in the 18th minute, but Subasic was quickly off his line to deny Dossevi in the right channel of the box. Claudio Ranieri's men lifted the tempo. In the 21st minute, Ducourtioux deflected a goal-bound Obbadi effort, and then Penneteau saved from James and Obbadi, again (22' and 24').
With AS Monaco FC right on top, Valenciennes opened the scoring against the run of play (30'). From a cross from the right, Subasic could only palm the ball straight into the feet of Abidal who turned the ball into his own goal! ASM almost equalised immediately, but Mr Thual disallowed the goal for offside. As half-time approached, the visiting side were fouling a lot and Mr Thual failed to give another penalty should when Martial was tripped in the area. The first half came to a close with another Moutinho free-kick that flirted with the right-hand upright of Penneteau's goal… VAFC held a surprise 1-0 lead at the break.
Ducourtioux's killer blow
Rivière was replaced by Falcao at half-time as the Colombian hit man returned after a month on the sidelines. After a mistimed intervention from Penneteau, Moutinho saw his equaliser saved by yet another hand-ball, just outside the box, this time from Enza Yamissi (48'). Penneteau then denied Toulalan and Martial (50', 53'). A minute later, James was brought down in the area but Mr Thual was having none of it. The man in the middle then showed clemency towards Ciss in the 53rd minute, brandishing a yellow card a veritable assault on Martial. The young Monégasque forward was replaced moments later (56'), just before Ducourtioux beat Subasic finishing off a lightning counterattack (58')!
James nets a consolation goal
Les Rouge et Blanc fought back, but Penneteau denied James on the hour mark (60'). In the 69th minute, seconds after coming on, Saez could have made it 3-0, only to miss the target. ASM were struggling but got their second wind in the final ten minutes. Just seconds after drawing another save from Penneteau, Falcao earned a deserved penalty in the 81st minute. He went low, but the VA 'keeper went the right way and made the save! There was barely the time to rue that miss when James netted a header to get ASM back into the game (82'). He almost equalized in the 88th minute from a YFC free-kick, but he was wrongly ruled off-side - an umpteenth refereeing decision to go against the hosts... In the end, VAFC held on for the win and denied Claudio Ranieri's men a record that seemed there for the taking… It's a sad way to end a 2013 that will still go down as an historic one for AS Monaco FC.