Monaco suffer heavy defeat to end Euro campaign
AS Monaco bowed out of the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday as a much-changed side went down 5-2 to FC Porto in Portugal with Vincent Aboubakar scoring twice for the hosts.
Wednesday, December 6, 2017
UEFA Champions League, Group G
FC Porto 5 - 2 AS Monaco
Semi-finalists last season, Monaco were already certain of finishing bottom of Group G before this game at the Estádio do Dragão. They were looking to sign off on a positive night by claiming a first win of a difficult campaign, although coach Leonardo Jardim also chose to give a run-out to a host of fringe players. He made six changes to the team that had beaten Angers SCO at the weekend, leaving the likes of Fabinho, João Moutinho, Radamel Falcao and Djibril Sidibé on the bench. Among the changes, there was a start in goal for Diego Benaglio and Soualiho Meité came in for his Champions League debut in midfield.
Porto knew a win would take them through and they went in front early on. The Monaco defence had partially cleared a free-kick but, with their defence pushing up, Yacine Brahimi returned the ball into the penalty box and Aboubakar tucked it home under Benaglio (9').
Benaglio saved from Danilo midway through the first half but there was nothing he could do to stop Aboubakar getting his and Porto's second just after the half-hour mark. The former FC Lorient striker collected Danilo's pass before firing across Benaglio and in (33').
There was drama after that as both sides were reduced to ten men, with Rachid Ghezzal and Felipe being shown straight red cards by the Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson for an altercation after Porto's Brazilian defender had fouled Ghezzal (38').
There was still time for the hosts to get their third goal before the interval, with Aboubakar turning provider this time, his ball into the box finding Brahimi, who stole in front of Almamy Touré to score (45').
There was a fightback of sorts from the Ligue 1 Conforama champions after the break, Kamil Glik scoring a penalty that had been awarded when Ivan Marcano blocked a Guido Carrillo header with his arm (61').
A fine Alex Telles strike saw Benaglio beaten for the fourth time (65'), but there was still time for Falcao to come off the bench and score against his old club, heading in Keita Baldé's flighted ball (77').
The Colombian's effort drew warm applause from the home fans, who fondly remember his contribution during two years in northern Portugal. And they were celebrating another goal at the other end with two minutes left, Ricardo Pereira crossing for substitute Francisco Soares to head in and complete the rout.
Having famously lost 3-0 in the 2004 Champions League final, and having also been beaten 3-0 at home by Porto in September, Monaco will be glad to see the back of the Portuguese side as they are left to focus entirely on domestic matters for the rest of the season.
THE PLAYER: Vincent Aboubakar
The Cameroon striker, who spent five years in Ligue 1 with Valenciennes FC and FC Lorient, has enjoyed coming up against Monaco this season. He also scored a brace in the 3-0 win at the Stade Louis II in September and finishes the group stage with five goals in all.
THE STAT: 16
Monaco end the group phase with 16 goals conceded, a record for a French club in the current format of the competition.