On November 20, AS Monaco hosted Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain for what was never going to be an easy match for the red and whites. Since Monaco’s stellar 2016/17 season, the Principality side consistently suffered at the hands of the overly-rich Parisians, but this time Kylian Mbappe and co’ returned to Stade Louis II to find a much more complete team awaiting them and, right from kick off, the sparks started to fly.
It would be Monaco who had the first opportunity to christian the scoreline at the 8th minute, but alas, Sofiane Diop was just off the mark. A minute later, new recruit Kevin Volland stepped up to a free kick and made Paris goalie Keylor Navas stretch to reach the incoming missile, with an unfortunate degree of success. The Parisians then responded with a few attempts from Danilo Pereira and Angel Di Maria, but to no avail. That was until the French phenomen striker, Mbappe, begun to make his heavy impact on the game. The former Monaco man turned the red and whites’ back line to open the scoring for the visitors 0-1 at the 24th minute.
Not long thereafter, Mbappe netted the ball again but this time from the penalty spot, as he beat Monaco’s goalie Vito Mannone from 12 paces out at the 36th minute. In an attempt to seal the deal, Mbappe found the back of the net again at the 45th minute and enjoyed his presumed hat-trick until the not so surgical no.7 was marked offside. As the halftime whistle blew, the score stood at 0-2 to the visitors.
With the game shaping up in the wrong way, Monaco manager Niko Kovac deployed his tactical magic. Ciao Henrique and Cesc Fabregas were substituted in to breathe new life into the game, but the Spaniard would adopt the no.10 role and this strategical shift proved to pay off nicely. Volland was just beaten by Navas again after a sharp header from a cross, but this didn’t stop the German from coming back for more. Just a minute later, Volland found the back of the net following a perfect cross from Gelson Martins to make the score 1-2 to the hosts at the 51st minute. The former Bundesliga player was then set up just right by his veteran teammate Cesc Fabregas as the duo combined to equalise the score 2-2 at the 64th minute as Volland celebrated his second brace of the season.
With yet another hugely expensive player Neymar Jr making his appearance on the pitch, the Monegasques could not afford to become complacent. Instead, the red and whites maintained their new found form and kept the pressure on the Parisians. Hungry for more, Kovac’s men found themselves pushing in the box much more than in the first half, and this paid off as Volland once again played a vital offensive role. The German striker drew a penalty after being downed by Paris’ Abdou Diallo who was then sent off. With less than 10 minutes remaining, Fabregas stepped up to take the penalty and he did so with sublime style as he crucially found the back of the net to bring the Principality side up to a deeply satisfying 3-1 scoreline. Monaco went on to cement their success as the final whistle blew to mark their victory, and what a victory at that.
Kovac and his men did not just win a match, no, they did so without their captain, the dangerous Wissam Ben Yedder and in the face of the oil money rich Parisians who can boast two of the greatest players under the age of 28 in their front row. Such a result would have been the stuff of dream in the previous season, but Monaco have made leaps and bounds to return to their top form, and this time with a fresh new squad who are now coming together beautifully. The red and whites now sit in second place in the Ligue 1 table, just below their visiting victims, and will host Nimes at home again on November 29. In the meantime, enjoy watching Fabregas and the boys stun Paris in a comeback for the books. Daghe Munegu!
Featured image: Kevin Volland was vicious in attack and seems to have settled into his new team nicely