Football: Monaco take huge step towards Champions League qualification

Monaco celebrate Fofana's goal in front of the fans at the Stade Louis II

AS Monaco took a significant step toward bringing Champions League football back to the Stade Louis II by beating Lille OSC (1-0) on Wednesday night. 

It was a huge night of sport in the Principality and specifically within the walls of the Stade Louis II. Whilst the Roca Team tried, and failed, to begin their Euroleague play-off against Fenerbahçe with a win, all eyes were on the Principality’s football team later in the evening.

PSG’s title celebrations on hold

After PSG’s 4-1 win over Lorient earlier in the day, anything less than a win for second-placed Monaco would have seen Les Parisiens crowned Ligue 1 champions for the third season in a row. Whilst Monaco’s win only delays the inevitable in that sense, Adi Hütter’s side made a huge step in a week that will likely prove decisive come the end of the season.

PSG forward Kylian Mbappé said that he and his teammates would be keeping an eye on the Monaco score on their plane back to Paris. He would have been enthused by the way Lille started with Gabriel Gudmundsson going close to giving Lille the lead in the opening minutes.

Radoslaw Majecki was kept busy in the Monaco goal and had to make a string of saves, the most impressive of which came from a Vanderson deflection, which saw a relatively harmless cross loop goalwards.

Prince Albert II in attendance

However, Monaco had chances too, the most clear-cut of which came courtesy of Folarin Balogun, who tried and failed to round the impressive Luca Chevalier in the Lille goal. After seeing the Roca Team lose in the Euroleague, Prince Albert II made the short trip through the labyrinth that is the Stade Louis II, to the Princely Box. Alongside club president, Dmitry Rybolovlev, he emerged just after the half-hour mark and he would see the Principality’s football side fare better.

Despite Lille pushing for an opener early in the second half, hitting the post through Gudmundsson, it was Monaco who took the lead thanks to a driven effort from Youssouf Fofana from the edge of the box.

Ditry Rybolovlev with Prince Albert II
AS Monaco president Dmitry Rybolovlev with Prince Albert II. Photo credit: AS Monaco

At times this season, Monaco have shown an inability to manage matches, immaturity and naivety but not on this occasion, in arguably the biggest game of the season. Les Monégasques managed their lead and never looked flustered, holding onto the advantage despite Les Dogues’ late efforts to push for the equaliser that would bolster their own chances of playing in the Champions League next season.

Monaco make “big step” towards Champions League

The lead extends Monaco’s gap to third-placed Brest to five points, whilst Lille are now six points away with just four games of the Ligue 1 season remaining. Naturally, Hütter wants to ward against complacency. “I said to the team, I am careful about the situation, we have to respect the situation and the upcoming opponents,” said the Austrian manager next match.

Hütter did nonetheless admit that his side have taken a “big step” towards Champions League qualification. Whilst Hütter, his staff and his players must remain focused on the job at hand, fans of Les Rouge et Blanc can now begin to get excited at the prospect of Champions League football at the Stade Louis II for the first time since the 2018/19 season.


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Photo credit: AS Monaco