Cruel! There is no other word to describe the elimination of AS Monaco against Shakhtar Donetsk this Wednesday in the Champions League playoffs. Beaten in the first leg at Stade Louis-II (1-0), the Rouge et Blanc were heroic in the return leg in leading 2-0 at halftime, before conceding at the end of extra time (2- 2). It is therefore with immense disappointment, but also with the feeling of having given everything to obtain the victory, that Niko Kovac and Youssouf Fofana spoke about this draw with the media.
Good evening Niko. What is your reaction after this match?
That’s football unfortunately. They’ve only had one shot on target in this game and have scored two goals, while we had 25 attempts I think, 10 of them on target. Normally, we would have won this game and scored three or four goals.
How do you see the second half?
For me, we should be able to score a third goal before half-time. In the second half we forced them to play long because usually they build play with short passes. We played very aggressively, like we did last season. Once again we created a lot of chances, but the opposing goalkeeper made a lot of saves late in the game. It’s difficult to accept.
⌚ 92' NONNNNN !! Encore un énorme arrêt de Pyatov sur une frappe de Kevin ! 😡
— AS Monaco 🇲🇨 (@AS_Monaco) August 25, 2021
Do you have any regrets about these two matches?
When I look at the two matches and the 210 minutes played, I would say we dominated for 190 minutes. In the first 20 minutes of the first leg, we weren’t the real AS Monaco that I know. But at the end of the day I have to say that sometimes football is really cruel. It’s hard. But I’m very proud of the performance of my players, who forced Shakhtar to play differently than usual. I think we did everything right, and the truth, I repeat, is that Donetsk scored two goals with just one shot on target. It’s a strange outcome, but it’s football and I can respect that; we are not going to give up.
How do you see the team’s participation in the Europa League?
When I arrived at the Club, I said that we wanted to bring AS Monaco back to Europe. We did it. Unfortunately we missed the opportunity to play in the Champions League today. We were very close and we will be able to rely on this experience to play in the Europa League, especially the young players, because Europe is new to them. Playing only in Ligue 1 is quite “easy”, but going back and forth between two competitions is new to them. We must refocus quickly on the match against Troyes this Sunday.
We will play the Europa League hard. I want to believe that tonight is a new beginning.
Good evening, Youssouf. How are you feeling after this match?
There is disappointment, a lot of frustration, because we have put in everything necessary to progress. We were just lacking in our finishing.
We will play the Europa League hard. I want to believe that tonight is a new beginning. We have shown the true face of AS Monaco.
How are you going to bounce back from this elimination?
We have to digest it quickly because we have a match against Troyes on Sunday, and it’s an opportunity to lift ours head and start a good run of form. You have to learn from this result to move forward, while keeping this match in mind as a standard for the future.
Monaco nevertheless turned in a complete performance, much like last season…
Exactly. All of the hard work from last season has been reflected tonight. We were really in sync with our movements, we didn’t need to talk to each other. We had a really good match, with a great first half and a well-managed second, but it was in the final third that we we could have improved a bit.