There was a chilly breeze blowing in from the North Sea for kick-off in this latest Champions League encounter, but the 22 players out on the pitch were quickly warmed-up. AS Monaco started strongly with Ocampos making a penetrating run down the wing as early as the 3rd minute. His pull-back found Berbatov, but Lodygin managed to get his body behind the Bulgarian's strike. A minute later, Dirar's acrobatic effort came within a whisker of the right-hand post, and Ocampos was back in the action in the 7th minute, angling a header just off target from Moutinho's free kick. The players were clearly in no mood to hang around, and a fascinating contest was already developing.
AS Monaco control the first half
Zenit's first probing incursion into the Monaco half came in the form of a lightning counter-attack led by Hulk, the big striker finding Danny whose shot sailed high and handsome (10 mins). Nevertheless, AS Monaco were on top with 60% possession in the opening ten minutes. After the frenetic start, the intensity level dropped a notch and there were 44 minutes on the clock before either side was able to carve out the first clear-cut chance. It fell to Ocampos, whose strike was punched clear by Lodygin.
Toulalan in a class of his own
After the break, Zenit put their foot on the metaphorical football accelerator. Hulk beat Raggi on the left and put the ball across goal for Rondón, who - suddenly one on one with Subasic - completely fluffed his lines (50 mins). Shortly afterward Hulk stepped up to take one of his trademarks free kicks, but blasted his effort into the skies above St Petersburg (53 mins). Monaco's central defensive partnership of Raggi and Carvalho were rock solid against the Zenit onslaught, while the classy Toulalan was quite simply in a league of his own. The Russian side's only real threat came from set pieces, with two Lombaerts headers that Subasic dealt with easily (55 and 78 mins).
Ferreira Carrasco denied by the woodwork
The best chance of the second half fell to the visitors. Ferreira Carrasco sent a warning shot across Zenit's bows with a shot that Lodygin, could only parry back out to the Belgian, who gratefully took a second bite at the cherry but saw his effort deflected agonisingly onto the outside of the post (73 mins)! The final score was 0-0, a satisfactory result for AS Monaco who were more than a match for the unbeaten Russian champions in their own backyard. The next European game for the Monegasques will be at the Stade Louis-II on 22 October, but in between there's Ligue 1 action and the small matter of a tricky trip to Paris on Sunday and the visit of Evian on 18 October.