AS Monaco were outplayed in all departments as they succumbed to a defeat of great consequence against RC Lens (3-0) at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis on Saturday.
The gulf in intensity and class between the two sides both of whom are competing for a place on the Ligue 1 podium, was stark and wasn’t lost on manager Philippe Clement, who not for the first time this month, said that he “didn’t recognise [his] team.”
The same phrase was evoked during a home victory against Strasbourg (4-3) earlier in April, but whilst Clement’s men overcame the threat posed by Les Alsaciens, they couldn’t keep the Lens onslaught at bay.
Monaco were immediately under the cosh, and it was one of his former players, Loïs Openda, who dealt the damage. The Belgian forward first capitalised from a poor Alexander Nübel pass out to Vanderson to open the scoring before doubling his tally with a tap-in just minutes later.
There was no revolt. Monaco didn’t have the answers, and Seko Fofana almost scored the third before half-time, only the crossbar denied the Ivorian. Adrien Thomasson had the ball in the net shortly after the break but was denied by an offside call, but after more good work from Openda, he did have his third.
Monaco had chances to cut the advantage, but the overriding feeling was that any goal would have been inconsequential against a Lens side that were in cruise control.
“I didn’t recognise my team.”
Pre-match, Clement said that the match “wasn’t yet decisive,” but the defeat, and the manner of it, does huge harm to the Principality club’s chances of reaching the Ligue 1 podium for the third successive season.
“We were too weak this evening. When you barely win a duel in the first half and the intensity of the opponent is much higher, you can’t win a match,” bemoaned Clement.
“It’s not over. I am expecting a reaction from my team,” added the Belgian coach, who face Montpellier in a must-win clash at the Stade Louis II next Sunday. Monaco’s Champions League aspirations are dwindling, but they can yet be rekindled.
Photo by AS Monaco