Football: Monaco celebrate Champions League qualification with victory at festive Stade Louis II

AS Monaco players celebrate during their 4-0 victory over Nantes in front of the iconic arches of the Stade Louis II

AS Monaco celebrated their Champions League qualification with a 4-0 hammering of FC Nantes at a festive Stade Louis II on Sunday. 

Football took a back-seat role as Monaco hosted Nantes on the final day of the season. Neither side had anything to play for: the Principality side were assured of second place, whilst Les Canaris had already ensured their safety for next season.

Monaco’s Ultras’ 30th birthday celebrations only heightened the feeling that attention was elsewhere – the 9,150 that packed into the Louis II, including Prince Albert II and owner Dmitry Rybolovlev, were there to celebrate.

However, Les Monégasques did well to capture fans’ attention, putting on an attacking spectacle, and blowing Nantes away in 23 minutes.  Wissam Ben Yedder, in what may very well be his final game as a Monaco player, opened the scoring in the sixth minute with a deft close-range finish.

Kehrer celebrates permanent Monaco move with a goal

Thilo Kehrer also had something to celebrate on the night. The German’s permanent move from West Ham United to ASM was made official on Friday and to cap the occasion, he got on the scoresheet just four minutes later. When Mohamed Camara scored Monaco’s third in just the 23rd minute, Nantes did have something to play for – pride.

“It was a catastrophic start to the match,” admitted Nantes manager Antoine Kombouaré. “When you defend like this, you run into big problems. We’re disappointed, very disappointed,” he added.

Fearing a drubbing, Nantes closed up defensively for the rest of the half, offering few chances, bar a Folarin Balogun shot on the swivel that struck the foot of the post. However, the Principality club were always the more threatening against an impotent Nantes attack.

Rybolovlev on Champions League qualification – “It’s a beautiful gift”

They deservedly got a fourth after the break through Eliesse Ben Seghir. Nantes never pushed for a consolation, Monaco were content to keep their opponents at arms and that’s exactly what they did until the final whistle, which was met with celebratory scenes as the stress and physical and mental exertion of a difficult season seeped out.

“It’s a beautiful gift for the Monégasques and for the AS Monaco fans on the dawn of the club’s centenary,” reacted owner Dmitry Rybolovlev post-match. “I want to congratulate the whole group, all of the staff, and those that work at the club for this result and thank them for the work that they have done during this season in which we finished on the podium for the third time in four years,” added the Russian.

“We wanted a good win in from of our fans in the last game. The 4-0 win, we deserved it,” added Adi Hütter, who stated that pre-season will begin on 25th June. For now, AS Monaco and their players will enjoy a “hard-earned” rest before what promises to be an enthralling season, with the return of Champions League group-stage football for the first time since the 2018/19 season.

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Main photo: AS Monaco