The Monegasques suffered a shock defeat in the first leg of the Europa League round of 16, as Portuguese Primiera Liga side Braga scored not one, but two goals to Monaco’s zero when the two teams clashed at the Estádio Municipal de Braga.
Braga drew first blood very early on, as Abel Ruiz struck the ball from close range, making it 1-0 at just the third minute. Monaco’s own Portuguese threat, Gelson Martins believed that he had equalised at the 29th minute, but the midfielder was unfortunately signalled as being offside.
The ever-opportunistic Wissam Ben Yedder found the back of the net with a header moments later at the 33rd minute, but he too was frustratingly signalled as being offside.
Monaco did not give up on finding the back of the net, but were unable to before the first half could conclude. The hosts proved to be committed to keeping Monaco at bay in the second half, as Braga goalie Matheus blocked shot after shot.
Despite having been reinforced with substitutes, Monaco were unable to break Braga, and it would be the hosts again who would score. Braga’s Vitinha capitalised on a rapid counter-attack, and scored with a firm header at the 89th minute, bringing the scoreline to 2-0 just before injury time.
At the end of a tougher match than some might have expected, Monaco walk away from the first leg 2-0 down. The Monegasques will have to put on a dominant display when Braga return for the second leg of the Europa League’s round of 16, this time at the Stade Louis II on Thursday, March 17.
Before then, though, Monaco must face off against Strasbourg away on Sunday, March 13 for the 28th match-day of Ligue 1.