UEFA Europa League, 23/02/23
Eliot Matazo missed the decisive penalty as AS Monaco dropped out of the Europa League, letting slip their first-leg advantage at the Stade Louis II.
Leverkusen took the lead early thanks to one of many Nübel mistakes. Jeremie Frimpong’s harmless cross slid under the German keeper, leaving Florian Wirtz with a simple tap-in from close range. Les Monégasques quickly worked their way back into the tie, Eliesse Ben Seghir with the neat work to win the penalty, dispatched by Wissam Ben Yedder.
However, the Ligue 1 side weren’t level for long. Exequiel Palacios latched onto a poor clearance from Malang Sarr, dispatching low to Nübel’s right, the German’s vision perhaps hindered by the bodies in the box. Amine Adli then gave the Bundesliga side an aggregate lead, heading past Nübel, who seemed glued to the spot and unable to make the short jump to make the save.
Monaco needed a goal, and Ben Yedder almost got it, his well-hit strike hitting the underside of the bar and bouncing to safety. As Monaco began to commit, spaces opened, Mitchel Bakker had a goal ruled out for a narrow offside and Adam Hlozek went close.
However, Les Monégasques were seizing the momentum, and Ben Seghir’s shot, unmarked in the box was well saved by Lukas Hradecky. The goal would come for Monaco, their persistence rewarded through a well-placed Breel Embolo header. Monaco almost won the tie in normal time, Edan Diop, on for his debut, finished calmly in the final minute of added time, only for the goal to be ruled out with the ball having already gone out of play.
The game, therefore, went to extra time, and chances were harder to come by. Kevin Volland came on against his former side, and almost knocked them out, but his strong header was well saved by Hradecky.
The game went to penalties. Eliot Matazo missed the only penalty with Moussa Diaby stepping up to make the final blow. Monaco bow out of the competition, Leverkusen progress.
Monaco player ratings
Alexander Nübel – 3 – A nightmare from the German keeper, who didn’t exude confidence throughout. His first error, leading to Wirtz’s goal set in motion a negative spiral which he failed to arrest. His errors changed the course of the game, and as far as Monaco are concerned, not in a positive way.
Caio Henrique – 7 – The Brazilian didn’t stop running, getting back and covering even when it seemed unlikely. As always, he was also an important attacking outlet, but for once, his impact was felt most in defence.
Malang Sarr – 4 – The Chelsea loanee is struggling to kick into gear for Monaco, but he grew into this Europa League tie. He was at least in part responsible for Leverkusen’s second goal, his limp clearance gifting the ball to Palacios to blast home. Sloppy passing also opened up spaces in behind, which could have proven costly if they hadn’t been cleaned up by his teammates, notably by Mohamed Camara in the first half. Towards the end of the first half, Sarr played an increasingly important role, making a few crucial interventions to prevent the game from slipping away from Les Monégasques.
Axel Disasi – 7 – A captain’s performance. Solid from start to finish, not culpable for any of the goals conceded. With Sarr on one side and Matisma the other, he needed to show his experience and he did.
Chrislain Matsima – 5
Mohamed Camara – 6 – One of the few bright sparks in the Monaco side on the night. He showed energy and level of commitment that wasn’t matched by his teammates. Some of his defensive interventions were crucial.
Youssouf Fofana – 5
Aleksandr Golovin – 4
Eliesse Ben Seghir – 6 – Another positive showing from the 17-year-old, who produced Monaco’s only piece of magic in the match, showing some neat footwork inside the box to attract a penalty, converted by Ben Yedder. The Frenchman showed some other good touches, but he often found himself too isolated and without the options to make a greater impact.
Kréþin Diatta – 5
Wissam Ben Yedder – 5
Others: Breel Embolo (7), Ismaïl Jakobs (5), Edan Diop (4)
GFFN | Luke Entwistle