Football: Monaco draw to Lille in cagey affair

It is advantage AS Monaco in the race for the Europa League place after a cagey draw against Lille (0-0) at the Stade Louis II on Sunday. 

The stars descended on what was billed as an offensive spectacle with two of Ligue 1’s highest scorers coming up against each other in a crucial match in the fight for European football. However, Prince Albert II, Ricardo Carvalho and Nico Hulkenberg will doubtless have been disappointed by what both sides offered on the day.

There was a lot on the line, and it showed. Both sides were hesitant to commit, especially in the first half, meaning that chances were at a premium. Myron Boadu, who was looking to add to his goal against SCO Angers last week, came closest but was denied by the onrushing Lucas Chevalier.

Kevin Volland a surprise omission

The game opened up slightly after the break. Lille, who were looking to reduce the five-point gap to Monaco, were in more need of the three points, and they began to push in the second half and had the chances to win it.

However, they were denied by an in-form Alexander Nübel. His save from Timothy Weah was crucial, whilst he also denied the profligate Jonathan Bamba on numerous occasions.

Photo by Luke Entwistle, Monaco Life

Takumi Minamino, arguably Monaco’s most dangerous player, had the ball in the net but was rightly ruled out for offside. Les Monégasques lacked a cutting edge, but couldn’t lean on Kevin Volland to break the deadlock. The German, originally in the matchday squad, suffered a late injury, meaning that he was forced to watch on with compatriot Hulkenberg in the stands.

“It was crucial not to lose this match.”

Neither side managed to find an opener, and the match finished in a stale 0-0 draw – a result that naturally pleases Monaco more than Lille.

“It was crucial not to lose this match,” began Clement post-match. The Belgian coach was without many key players, including Wissam Ben Yedder, Guillermo Maripán, Krépin Diatta, and Volland and Mohamed Camara. “I hope to have a few back next week,” said Clement.

Monaco have two more crucial ties against direct rivals for the European places. Les Monéŋasques travel to Lyon on Friday before facing Rennes the following week. By the time Clement’s side return to the Principality for the final game of the season against Toulouse in early June at the Louis II, Monaco will want to have already secured their Europa League qualification. They have navigated one hurdle, but there are two big ones to come.


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Photo by AS Monaco