The first match of the year was a tale of two halves and then some for AS Monaco on Sunday, January 7, as an intense Coupe de France game against RC Lens culminated in a penalty shootout at the Stade Bollaert.
Monaco captain Wissam Ben Yedder wasted no time in finding the opening goal just one minute into the match, catching Lens goalkeeper Brice Samba by surprise to make it 0-1 to the visiting Monegasques.
Perhaps still shocked by the opener, the hosts conceded another goal shortly thereafter, as Monaco newcomer Kassoum Ouattara found Maghnes Akliouche at the far post with a delightful cross to claim his first assist in red and white.
Akliouche finished with ease to extend the Monegasque lead to 0-2 at only the 27th minute. However, the hosts spoiled a perfect first half with a goal of their own at the 43rd minute, when a shot by Faitout Maouassa was slightly deflected by Guillermo Maripán and into the Principality side’s net.
Lens continued to push until they found their equaliser through midfielder Florian Sotoca, who brought the scoreline to a level 2-2 at the 62nd minute.
Monaco head coach Adi Hütter reacted by bringing on Myron Boadu and Edan Diop at the 68th minute, but this was not enough to inspire another goal before the full time whistle blew.
The subsequent penalty shootout had the 700 Monaco supporters in the stands of the Stade Bollaert on the edge of their seats.
Ben Yedder scored the first penalty of the shootout, but the following three Monaco players all failed to convert their penalties. Fortunately though, the Lens players were also rather off the mark at this point. Things picked up thereafter with four perfect penalties scored by both teams, until Soungoutou Magassa made the most of a missed shot to finally win the match for Monaco.
With this victory Monaco advance to the Coupe de France Round of 16, which will be played on the weekend of January 20 and 21. The fixtures will be decided by draw on Monday, January 8.
Featured image courtesy of AS Monaco