It was a third win in five Ligue 1 games for AS Monaco. Niko Kovac‘s players once again showed their character to overcome Strasbourg despite finishing with nine against eleven (3-2), a week after losing at the death to Rennes. It was a victory which allowed the Red and Whites to temporarily climb into the top 5 in the standings. For this match, played once again under the gaze of President Dmitry Rybolovlev, who was present at the Stade Louis-II, the Monegasque coach opted for a slight adjustment in his eleven.
Wissam Ben Yedder strikes first
For this fifth outing of the season, Niko Kovac decided to rely on the same three as against Rennes in midfield with Cesc Fàbregas in a deep-lying role in front of the duo of Tchouameni and Fofana. But it was in attack that the change was made, with Stevan Jovetic starting on the left wing and Kevin Volland on the right flank, supporting Wissam Ben Yedder. In defense, Fodé Ballo-Touré regained a place in the starting XI in the absence of Djibril Sidibé.
These were choices that looked to quickly bore fruit with AS Monaco stifling the Alsatians and pinning them deep in their own half. Perfectly picked out by his German international teammates (10 caps, 1 goal) after a fine movement from the Red and Whites, Stevan Jovetic just over-hit his shot against Bingourou Kamara (2nd). However, AS Monaco continued to press very high in the Strasbourg half, and Wissam Ben Yedder, like last weekend, took the opportunity to open the scoring.
A big start for Monaco
After a fine pass from Ruben Aguilar, the Monaco captain relied on Kevin Volland to set him up to perfectly fire his shot into the corner of Kamara’s net (1-0, 9th). Shortly thereafter, the locals did not loosen their grip, and Aurélien Tchouameni hit a shot from 25 meters, albeit one lacking power on which the Alsatian goalkeeper claimed magnificently (14th). Another chance came six minutes later, when Fodé Ballo-Touré sent a good cross in for a first time shot for Wissam Ben Yedder, who narrowly missed getting his double on a slight deflection (21st).
It was a start to the match thoroughly dominated by the Red and Whites, who were eager to put their mark on the match quickly, as they had against Nantes two weeks ago and away to Rennes. Strasbourg then tried to regain control of the match around the half-hour mark. Without creating any great opportunities, except for a post hit by Adrien Thomasson on a chance where Waris was finally signaled off-side. (22′), Thierry Laurey’s men posed more problems for AS Monaco.
Bad news after returning from the locker room
But on one of the last attacks of the first period after a very physical quarter hour, the Red and Whites doubled their lead thanks to the fullbacks. Well played in behind the Strasbourg defense by an inspired Stevan Jovetic, Fodé Ballo-Touré crossed for Ruben Aguilar at the far post. Despite his height of 1m72, the Monegasque right back then beat his defender and the Alsatian goalkeeper with a subtle cushioned header (2-0, 45 + 2).
After doing well to keep the ball from Adrien Thomasson and his teammates (66% possession), (Thomasson being a player who had scored in each of the last five matches against the Red and Whites) AS Monaco started the second half in the worst possible way. On a mistake at the back, Strasbourg took the opportunity to reduce the gap through substitute Mehdi Chahiri, on his first shot (2-1, 46′). Caught cold, the teammates of Wissam Ben Yedder did not let themselves be taken aback and reacted quickly.
A quick response
On a good shift of play from Youssouf Fofana, Kevin Volland, found on the right side of the Alsatian penalty area, played the ball in perfectly for Wissam Ben Yedder, who once again who had only to finish (3-1, 53′). It was a second assist of the day for the German striker, who showed all the qualities of involving his teammates in the penalty area, and already looks a good complement to his captain. However, AS Monaco did not really have time to rest on their laurels, as Aurélien Tchouameni soon thereafter received a second, rather severe, booking for an poorly timed challenge (56′).
It was a blow for the Red and Whites who had quickly regained control of this match. Niko Kovac then took the opportunity to bring on the young defensive midfielder Eliot Matazo. But there was more to come. On one of the rare Alsatian forays forward, Ludovic Ajorque, looked to beat Benjamin Lecomte, and was tugged back by Axel Disasi, and summarily sent off. The Strasbourg striker, who hadn’t scored in 10 matches, then took the opportunity from the spot to revive Strasbourg’s hopes a second time by cutting the lead back to one (3-2, 67′). AS Monaco were now nine against eleven with just under thirty minutes to go.
The top 5 in sight
It was then a chance for Chrislain Matsima and Giulian Biancone to celebrate their first season in Ligue 1, benefiting from a necessary tactical reorganization. As against Reims at the start of the season, after trailing 2-0 and Metz where the team finished with ten men, it was character that the Red and Whites clung to in the last moments. After 95 minutes of intense play from the first to the last second, the Red and Whites saw out a third win of the season.
Niko Kovac’s men have now added three more points to their very positive record since the start of the season, which allows them to temporarily move into the European places.