The reactions of Niko Kovac and Benjamin Lecomte
AS Monaco put an end to Lille’s winning streak on the road, one that had lasted for seven matches. After a balanced encounter against the leaders of Ligue 1, Niko Kovac’s Rouge et Blanc failed to break the deadlock, despite a late opportunity for Stevan Jovetić. It was a result which nevertheless allows the club of the Principality to consolidate its position in fourth place, eleven points ahead of Marseille. It was, all told, a good point for the Monegasque manager and for Benjamin Lecomte, who kept a third clean sheet in four; both spoke at the post-match press conference.
Good evening Niko. Did Mike Maignan’s save at the very end of the game leave you with a bitter taste?
I think it was a challenging match. Both teams displayed a good tactical level. It was hard to break down the Lille lines. I am happy with the performance of my team. We only conceded one shot on target. We can be sad but we can also be proud to compete with one of the best teams in Ligue 1.
How did you see this final chance of the match?
Jove’ is very disappointed because it was a good opportunity. But Mike Maignan is a very good goalkeeper and he made a big save. If Lille are in first today, it is because they are putting in good performances and earning their success. These are the small details, and this match turned on 10 centimeters tonight. If you can’t win, you have to know how not to lose.
Tonight the players who came on could not make the difference…
All the players have tried to make their contribution. Cesc offered a good range of passing, Sofiane too and Djibril almost had an assist for Jove’. The substitutes offered plenty of good things. I am happy with their performances. We are a squad, and we faced a good opponent today.
Did AS Monaco lose more than Lille tonight in terms of the table?
Lille were there to play for draw and hurt us on the counterattack. We were focused. Lille are in first but Paris can take the lead tonight with a win. Marseille are coming back as well, so we must keep our distance from the fifth. We’ll talk about it again in a month, we’ll see where we stand.
Good evening Benjamin. This result is not the best in terms of the table, but despite everything it is once again a clean sheet…
We are making progress, this is nothing new. We have a desire to be solid defensively. We are looking for that right balance between offense and defense. We know that we can trouble a lot of teams. We are not in fourth place for nothing.
Still, it was an opportunity to get closer to the podium today…
I don’t think we are the losers on the day. We had a good performance against a direct competitor for the top three. We are continuing to work our way forward, and I feel more regrets over the match against Strasbourg. We showed a good sense of playing as a team, we were not far from winning at the end of the match tonight. We still have work to do, and a big trip to Saint-Etienne is next.
Mike Maignan made a decisive save. How do you see his save?
He’s made a very important stop, that’s for sure. If we had won at the end of the match, we wouldn’t be having the same conversation. They are fighting for the title, and on our side we are in fourth. We want to put distance between ourselves and fifth and why not get closer to the top three. We did not take the lead, but we had a consistent match. There is a bit of frustration with that aspect of the result, but we had a very good match. It was against the leaders, and we managed to stand up to them, and to even offer a little more.
You had a more challenging evening yourself, you needed to play a strong game. How you feeling now?
I have come back well since my injury, I am doing better with each passing match. We kept a clean sheet against a big side in the league. It’s good for our confidence. I will have an important role to play over the next nine matches. We will not give up, we feel that we have something to do as a collective. We have to keep this structure and continue playing in this way.