To face the Alsatian side, Niko Kovac decided to play the same system as he had in the last two matches against Paris and Brest. The Croatian tactician therefore again set his team up in a 3-4-3 hybrid which had recorded two clean sheets in as many matches, with Djibril Sidibé and Aleksandr Golovin both making their return to the starting line-up. As for Thierry Laurey, he opted for a 3-5-2, with his usual strike partnership of Diallo and Ajorque up top.
A tentative first half hour
The two sides played cautiously, testing each other during the match’s first few minutes, without creating any chances in either area. We had to wait for Lamine Koné’s effort from 20 meters to see a Strasbourg attempt on goal. Fortunately, it was blocked by Youssouf Fofana for a corner, as it was then the turn of the Rouge et Blanc to test the Alsatians’ defense.
Following a free kick from Aleksandr Golovin, Guillermo Maripan knocked on a header at the far post, where Kevin Volland was very close to finishing (20th). In a balanced affair, the Monegasques could not manage to break down the opponents’ low block, which was well organized. The hosts were creating plenty of chances thanks to their prowess at set pieces, such as a volley from Lionel Carole following a free kick from Dimitri Liénard.
Little attacking initiative during the first half
The Strasbourg defender settled onto a ball cleared by the Monaco defense, but his attempt from 30 meters went just over Benjamin Lecomte’s goal (30′). The Principality club were also dangerous in Eiji Kawashima’s area at the very end of the first period. Captain Wissam Ben Yedder had an attempt on target, but the Japanese goalkeeper was alert to the danger (45th).
Niko Kovac knew that the eighth-best attack in Ligue 1 had its strengths. Ludovic Ajorque, Strasbourg’s top scorer with eleven goals, came very close to recording an assist; when he returned from the locker room, he picked out Adrien Thomasson at the penalty spot before a block off the line by Guillermo Maripán allowed his side to breathe a sigh of relief (46th).
Benjamin Lecomte is decisive
Thierry Laurey’s men continued to attack; a cross from Frédéric Guilbert was initially cleared by Benoît Badiashile, but Ludovic Ajorque picked up the loose ball and forced Benjamin Lecomte into a magnificent reflex save. Dimitri Liénard followed it up and tried his luck too, but his shot went over the crossbar (62′).
Kept busy on the evening, the Red and Whites’ goalkeeper once kept his side in the match after a cross came to Ludovic Ajorque, who was again the hosts’ linchpin in attack. The French international stretched out his foot and managed to keep out the Alsatian striker’s shot (72nd).
The Monégasques concede in the final seconds
As Niko Kovac’s men looked headed for a 13th match unbeaten in Ligue 1, the fourth placed side in the league were stunned in the last moments of the match. In added time, Frédéric Guilbert burst through the middle to finish with an unstoppable effort from 20 meters. The ball ended up in the bottom corner (1-0, 90 + 1).
The Monegasques’ unbeaten run therefore ended against Strasbourg, after two and a half months without losing a match. The next outing for Wissam Ben Yedder and his teammates comes next Monday with the third derby of the season, in the round of 16 of the Coupe de France at the Allianz Riviera (9 p.m.).
Ligue 1 Uber Eats – Matchday 28
RC Strasbourg 1-0 AS Monaco
Goals: Guilbert (90′) for Strasbourg
Bookings: Liénard (19′), Ajorque (27′) and Thomasson (53′) for Strasbourg
RC Strasbourg: Kawashima – Guilbert, Mitrovic ©, Koné, Caci – Carole, Djiku (Bellegarde, 78′), Liénard, Thomasson – Ajorque, Diallo (Siby, 90′)
Manager: Thierry Laurey
AS Monaco : Lecomte – Sidibé, Maripan, Badiashile – Aguilar (Diop, 60′), Fofana (Fàbregas, 60′), Tchouameni, Caio Henrique (Ballo-Touré, 85′) – Golovin (Diatta, 73′), Ben Yedder ©, Volland (Jovetić, 60′)
Manager: Niko Kovac