It was 17 years ago — how time flies. It’s been 17 years since AS Monaco wrote one of the most beautiful chapters in its history, with their incredible European run in the Champions League, which would notably see the Rouge et Blanc eliminate Real Madrid, beating the Galacticos in the quarterfinals, following an iconic second leg (3-1). After this achievement, it was time to face Claudio Ranieri’s Chelsea, another big opponent with a squad including Marcel Desailly, Frank Lampard, Claude Makelele, Hernan Crespo and the former Monegasque Eidur Guðjohnsen.
A lively start to the match
In a sold-out Louis-II Stadium, with a boiling atmosphere, Didier Deschamps started his first choice team with the offensive quartet of Jérôme Rothen, Ludovic Giuly, Fernando Morientes and Dado Pršo. The start of the match was very lively and the Croatian striker wasted no time in opening the scoring.
On a free kick from the left, delivered by Jérôme Rothen, the ball reached the Monegasque number 9 who fired a header into the top corner of Marco Ambrosio’s goal (17′). There was time to savor the lead, however, as five minutes later, Hernan Crespo beat Flavio Roma to allow his team to equalize (22′).
🎦🔙 𝑶𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒔 𝒅𝒂𝒚
Il y a 17 ans jour pour jour, l'AS Monaco faisait tomber les Blues de Chelsea au 𝑺𝒕𝒂𝒅𝒆 𝑳𝒐𝒖𝒊𝒔 𝑰𝑰. Les frissons sont toujours là ❤️🤍 pic.twitter.com/C12bvHs7DB
— AS Monaco 🇲🇨 (@AS_Monaco) April 20, 2021
Zikos reacts, and AS Monaco are reduced to 10
Back from the locker room, the Rouge et Blanc put significant pressure on the opposing goalkeeper and created two huge chances, first through Dado Pršo from a corner and then by Fernando Morientes, who had a bicycle kick cleared off the line by Marcel Desailly. But in the 52nd minute, a frustrated Andreas Zikos slapped Claude Makelele.
The latter collapsed to the ground and Urs Meier, the referee, decided to give a red card to the Greek midfielder; AS Monaco thus found themselves outnumbered, and it looked as if the end of the match would be very complicated. This was, however, without counting on the Monegasques’ desire, something that had given this team motivation throughout the season.
Five incredible minutes
After having resisted the London side’s half-hearted attacks, Didier Deschamps’s men got on the front foot. On a long ball by Ludovic Giuly in behind the defense, the Spanish center forward hit an unstoppable volley past the Blues’ goalkeeper (2-1, 78′). “And now we have to hold on!” said commentator Thierry Rolland, alongside Jean-Michel Larqué.
#OnThisDay in 2⃣0⃣0⃣4⃣
— UEFA.com DE (@UEFAcom_de) April 20, 2020
But the Monegasques would do more than just hold on, as five minutes later, on another pass from Jérôme Rothen, it was Shabani Nonda who scored, with a sublime chip, the third Monegasque goal (3-1, 83rd). Having just recovered from a cruciate injury, the Monegasque striker scored the decisive goal on the break with his first touch of the game, a fine conclusion to what was a beautiful story on the evening, and the fans could rejoice.
AS Monaco won the first leg 3-1 and looked set to reach the final. They would then have to manage the return leg, scheduled for Stamford Bridge a week later…
Champions League 2003-2004 – Semifinal first leg
AS Monaco 3-1 Chelsea
Goals: Pršo (17′), Morientes (78′) and Nonda (83′) for AS Monaco; Crespo (22′) for Chelsea
Bookings: Ibarra (44′) for AS Monaco; Melchiot (16′), Makelele (53′) and Terry (72′) for Chelsea
Dismissals: Zikos (53′)
AS Monaco: Roma – Ibarra, Givet, Rodriguez, Evra – Bernardi, Zikos, Giuly (Nonda, 82′), Rothen (Plasil, 89′) – Morientes, Pršo (Cissé, 57′)
Manager: Didier Deschamps
Chelsea: Ambrosio – Melchiot (Hasselbaink, 62′), Desailly, Terry, Bridge – Makelele, Parker (Huth, 68′), Lampard – Gudjohnsen, Gronkjaer (Veron, 46′), Crespo
Manager: Claudio Ranieri