After losing 5-3 to Man City on February 21, AS Monaco came back with a 3-1 win Wednesday night to advance to the Champions League quarterfinals.
There had been some doubt as to the team’s performance as top goal scorer Radamel Falcao was out with injury and top defender Kamil Glik had to sit the match out with a suspension.
“Falcao out, Glik out. Not many people thought we had a chance to qualify,” Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim said. “I always defend Ligue 1. France has good teams, good players, good managers.”
Father Walter Raymond of St Paul’s Monte Carlo is a long-time supporter of ASM, and was at both games against Man City. “The first halves, in both matches, were really exciting with Monaco scoring two of their total three goals before the halftime break. Monaco’s lead at the halftime in Manchester gave a false sense of security. City came back to win that match 5-3. So I was more than a bit wary last night at the half, and with reason.
“Sure enough City came out like a powerhouse with Sané scoring what by then seemed an inevitable goal, City was so strong, taking the overall lead at the 71st minute. But AS Monaco was not easily put off, and I’ve never heard the fans more unified and focused, cheering like crazy. So with the 12th man (the crowd) pushing Monaco on, Bakayoko came back only 6 minutes later to score ASM’s third and ultimately winning goal. What a terrific win! And now for the quarterfinals!”
This is the first time in eight tries that Man City coach Pep Guardiola failed to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League and insisted “the game plan would have been right if his players had executed it properly”.
“We played exceptionally in the second half but we forgot to do that in the first,” Guardiola commented. “We wanted to defend aggressively. We were better in the second, but it wasn’t enough.
“I came here to win the Champions League. I tried. I tried. And I will try again. Playing like we have done this season, like in the second half, would have been enough.”
Man City has the honour of being the first club in Champions League history “to score five goals in the first leg and be eliminated from a knockout tie”.
“Hopefully we are going to learn so that next season we can come back here and make the same performance we did at the Etihad for the whole 90 minutes.”
In the first half of Wednesday night’s match, Monaco dominated with a 2-0 lead, with goals by Mbappe (8′) and Fabinho (29′). Man City came back a little too late in the second half, with Sané scoring at the 71-minute mark but Monaco’s defensive midfielder Bakayoko was able to “head home” the third goal at 77 minutes.
“I thought if we scored three we would go through and the players had that in mind,” Jardim said. “English teams have suited us well in the last couple of years. We knocked out Arsenal (in the Round of 16 in 2015) and we beat Tottenham twice this season (in the group stage).”
Unbeaten in the last nine home games in all competitions, Monaco has scored 126 goals this season, and is now the only French team still in contention in four competitions: Ligue 1, Champions League, Coupe de la Ligue and Coupe de France.
Playing to a nearly full capacity at Stade Louis II, including HSH Prince Albert, fans of The Reds and Whites chanted “Le stade avec vous” (The stadium’s with you).
The quarterfinal draw Friday put Monaco against Borussia Dortmund, with the first leg in Germany on April 11, and the final match in Monaco on April 19.
Friday’s draw also put Atlético Madrid versus Leicester City, Bayern Munich against Real Madrid, and Juventus taking on Barcelona.
Article first published March 16.