It was under brilliant sunshine that the first match of 2020 started, a match which was also the first for Robert Moreno and his staff on the bench of AS Monaco. The new manager put forth a daring eleven, with a four-man back line and six offensive-minded players. From the start, the tenor of the match was clear. The Red and Whites monopolized the ball and faced a low and compact block from Reims. After two runs by Baldé on the left (3rd) and Golovin on the right (5th), Reims had the first real opportunity of the game. Oudin was on the end of a long ball and tried to beat Lecomte with a shot across goal that struck the upright!
AS Monaco did not allow themselves to be destabilized by this “warning shot” and the response came three minutes later with a recovery from Ben Yedder narrowly deflected behind for a corner by Reims (12th). Moments later, as Monaco’s domination increased to a crescendo, Lemaître had to intervene on a shot from Gelson (21st), then another from Golovin, which even more dangerous. The Red and Whites were able to hold possession in the opponents’ half and got another opportunity just before the break. Gelson put the ball in front of goal, and Baldé threw himself at it but could not turn it in. Foket averted the danger before Mr. Delajod whistled the end to a first period thoroughly dominated by AS Monaco.
Baldé gets the breakthrough…
It remained, however, up to the hosts to make the difference in the second half, which was approached eagerly by the players of Robert Moreno, who had three chances back to back just before the hour mark. Lemaître first made a big save on a powerful shot by Henrichs (55′), then deflected the ball away from Gelson on a cross from the right (57′). In the process, Ben Yedder tried a “Madjer” on a cross of Gelson, without success (58th). He then turned into creator in the 61st to play in Baldé in front of the Reims goal. The Senegalese’s header found the left corner of Lemaître’s goal, the ‘keeper stranded helplessly as AS Monaco opened the score (61st). It was a well-deserved advantage, but lasted only a short while, because Dia, who had come on in the 68th, equalized in the 69th on a beautiful bit of individual play.
…and makes his double decisive!
Everything had to be done again for the Red and Whites who were marking time, even if Munetsi was very happy to block a powerful shot by Golovin in the 78th. Worse, Mr. Delajod whistled a penalty in favor of Reims in the 85th minute following a late challenge by Silva on Kamara. The match was close, but Lecomte blocked Doumbia’s effort and kept his team afloat. While additional time was already well underway and extra time seemed likely, AS Monaco made the difference in the last seconds. On a corner won by Gelson and taken by Golovin, Baldé scored the goal to seal the victory! It was a thrilling end to this first game of the year and deserved qualification for Robert Moreno and his men.