Star winter signing Cesc Fabregas scored the winning goal in Monaco's 2-1 triumph over Toulouse, handing coach Leonardo Jardim his first win since returning to the job - and the side's first home win in the league all season!
Saturday, 2 February 2019
AS Monaco 2 - 1 Toulouse FC
This is the good Nes win that Monaco have been looking for all season long. A first win at home and the first breath of non-relegatable air they principality club - now in 18th, which would earn the ma play-off berth - have breathed since early October.
Returning coach Leonard Jardim had suffered a defeat in his mid-week re-debut as Monaco lost their Coupe de la Ligue BKT semi-final in Guingamp 5-4 on penalties (2-2). However, his side - re-worked into a 4-3-3 formation with stopper Jemerson in the holding midfield role - looked energised rather than crestfallen, and it took only 15 minutes for Aleksandr Golovin to get the game's opener.
Pouncing on the ball after a failed Toulouse free-kick, the Russian worked a pitch-long one-two with new Portuguese signing Gelson Martins, taking the return pass and angling a shot past Baptiste Reynet for his very first goal for Monaco (15').
Although Toulouse captain Christopher Jullien did well to find a quick equaliser for Alain Casanova's side, nodding home Ibrahim Sangaré's wayward header (20'), Monaco dominated the rest of the first half. Captain Radamel Falcao had a gilt-edged chance when the excellent Golovin worked the ball down the left with new left-back Fodé Ballo-Touré before crossing, but the Colombian's effort lacked power.
Cesc on the spot
Monaco were somewhat unlucky not to have have gone into the break in front, but new signing Fabregas remedied that just after the hour-mark. After more good work from the promising Martins down the right, Falcao fluffed his lines but the former Barcelona, Arsenal and Chelsea man was on hand to slot comply home and put his side in pole position (63').
Casanova's Toulouse have a reputation as fighters and they showed why as they spent the rest of the match testing the home side's mettle. Whereas Monaco may well have capitulated under the pressure earlier in the season, Jardim's men held tight and saw of waves of purple attacks.
Jimmy Durmaz hit the post, Max-Alain Gradel threatened with a header and Corentin Jean almost forced an own-goal from Benoît Badiashile, but Monaco held out for a precious win that promises much for the principality side, who ended the match with no fewer than six winter signings on the field.
THE PLAYER: Aleksandr Golovin
The 22-year-old Russian international has taken his time to make a splash in Ligue 1 Conforama since starring for his country in the World Cup on home soil in the summer, but his work on the left-hand side of the midfield three in Jardim's new-look formation was sensational.
On top of opening the scoring with a deft angled shot - his first goal since his reportedly €30m summer move from CSKA Moscow - Golovin hammered a powerful effort onto the cross-bar a few minutes later, showing the drive, skill and capacity to keep opponents on the back foot that will surely help Jardim's side to climb further away from the spectre of relegation.
THE STAT: 12
This home victory marked the end of an agonising 12-match winless run at home for Monaco - a run that has lasted from the beginning of the current campaign. The principality club's last home victory dates back to Week 37 of last season, when a penalty from spot-kick maestro Fabinho clinched a 1-0 win over Saint-Etienne.