AS Monaco will add extra luster to its centenary celebration in the coming season with a return to the Champions League. The team of the Austrian coach Adi Hütter finished the job on Sunday evening by winning 2-0 at Montpellier. It was a more than deserved victory at Stade de la Mosson, where l’ASM has a very good tradition. The team made the difference in the second half but had a clear dominance from the kick-off. With this victory, Monaco is also sure of second place in the final ranking.

Monaco started the match with much enthusiasm and immediately had the upper hand thanks to the brutal play of Akliouche and Ben Seghir, who were allowed to replace the absent Golovin (injured) and Minamino (suspended). It led to a few good opportunities to score, but in the end, Adi Hütter’s team was unable to take the lead quickly. Embolo had the best chance, but a wonderful save by defender Julien prevented a goal in the 11th minute.

The best chance in the first half came after a solo by Ouattara, where Ben Yedder saw his shot saved by goalkeeper Bertaud. A few seconds later, Embolo scored, with a header, but he was offside. The unfortunate Swiss, who only made his comeback last week after a serious knee injury, injured himself a few moments later and was replaced by Balogun before halftime. The first half did not produce any goals despite the clear dominance of the princely team.

That would soon change after the break, although Montpellier had a huge chance through his forward Coulibaly in the third minute of the second half. The striker shot the ball wildly over the crossbar. Four minutes later, Monaco struck with a beautiful attack, which was initiated by Diatta, who, as a right-back, sent a cross that came to Ouattara via Ben Yedder. The left back hit the target with a clean shot (0-1). From that moment on, Monaco seemed to slow down and it almost resulted in an equalizer. A shot by Coulibaly even ended up on the post. But within a minute of that situation, Monaco struck again with a whirlwind counter. Ben Seghir played Ben Yedder in deep from his own half; the top scorer released Akliouche and from his cross Fofana was able to shoot the ball into the net. The international, who will probably have to replace his buddy Tchouaméni in the French national team at the upcoming Euro 2024, scored his fourth goal this season. He also showed his top form in this game.

Of course, this goal was a death blow for Montpellier (the legendary champion of 2012), who had little to say in the last half hour. Akliouche and Ben Yedder came close to scoring, but each time goalkeeper Bertaud made a good save. Montpellier scored a goal for Sylla’s interference with goalkeeper Majecki in the goal area. It remained at 2-0 and then the celebrations could begin.

For AS Monaco, it means a return to the Champions League since the disappointing participation in the 2018-19 season, when the club threw away its own reputation abroad by not taking it seriously. The team then got only one point in six games and lost all home games (including against Club Brugge 4-0). In the season before, the participation (as reigning champion of France) was below par and only two points were earned and even then all home games were lost. After that, the club qualified for the preliminary round of the Champions League twice but was eliminated on the threshold of the tournament each time (by Shakhtar Donetsk and PSV Eindhoven).

Of course, Monaco has built up a good reputation in the Champions League and even played the final of this tournament twenty years ago by eliminating PSV, Deportivo, Real Madrid and Chelsea in memorable matches. In addition, Monaco reached the semi-finals three times (1994, 1998 and 2017) and is (since this season together with PSG) still the club from the Ligue 1 with the most participations in a semi-final. In addition, Monaco has an unprecedented statistic that it has never been eliminated by a club from the Premier League but has always managed to outwit English clubs in this tournament (Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City).

Monaco therefore has a good reputation to defend in the coming season in the new format of the tournament, in which it plays four home games and four away games against eight different clubs in the league round. The opponents will be determined by a draw at the Grimaldi Forum on August 29. Monaco may then have to deal with one of the surprising participants, who have already qualified such as the Italian Bologna and the Spanish Girona.