A fiercely united AS Monaco team travelled to Germany to face off against Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen in the first leg of their Europa League play-offs on Thursday, February 16, and toppled their foreign opponents in striking fashion.
The match began to entertain shortly after kick-off, as Lukas Hradecky suffered a howler of an incident. The Leverkusen goalie began dribbling with the ball in front of his own goal, a decision which was swiftly punished by Monaco’s Breel Embolo. The Swiss striker applied enough pressure to knock Hradecky off his feet, taking the ball with him into the back of the net to score an own goal and give the visiting Monegasques the lead at only the eighth minute.
Leverkusen played on looking to redeem themselves, and that they did at the dawn of the second half courtesy of a collected finish by Moussa Diaby from point blank range. Monaco then fell behind thanks to a goal by Florian Wirtz from slightly further back to make it 2-1 at the 59th minute.
Despite losing the lead, the visitors were still very much in the fight, a point which Krepin Diatta proved in a long range goal that cannot be described as anything short of glorious. The Senegalese international danced through a crowd of Leverkusen players before unleashing a missile from outside the box and around a helpless Hradecky, making for an equaliser to remember, at the 74th minute.
Now level, the two sides battled it out in the BayArena until injury time. Still level with minutes to go, Monaco defender Axel Disasi took it upon himself to score the winning goal, and that he did from a staggering distance, placing the ball perfectly in the bottom corner of the net to bring a magic Monaco team ahead in the dying moments of the match.
After a nail-biting match, and a couple of stunning goals, the final whistle marked a 2-3 victory for Monaco. With this win under their belts, the Monegasques leave Leverkusen with a one goal advantage over their German opponents, who will play the second leg of these Europa League play-offs in Stade Louis II on Thursday, February 23.
In the meantime, a no-doubt jubilant Principality side will most likely maintain their momentum when they face off against Brest in a regular Ligue 1 fixture away on Sunday, February 19.
Featured image courtesy of AS Monaco, team captain Wissam Ben Yedder celebrates the win with travelling Monaco Ultras