Shootout drama: Henry's youngsters topple Rennes
AS Monaco are through to the Coupe de la Ligue final after winning 1-1 (8-7 on pens.) on penalties against Rennes at the Stade Louis II on Wednesday, 20-year-old 'keeper Loïc Badiashile making a start turn late in the piece.
Wednesday, 9 January 2019
Coupe de la Ligue, quarter-finals
Stade Louis II, Monaco
AS Monaco 1 - 1 Stade Rennais FC - AS Monaco win 8-7 on penalties
AS Monaco claimed just their second home win of the season on Wednesday night, and it couldn't have come at a better juncture for Thierry Henry's embattled side, who can now set about approaching 2019 on a positive dynamic after coming from behind to beat Rennes 8-7 on penalties after regulation time ended 1-1.
The visitors had the upper hand throughout the first half as Monaco - without the likes of Radamel Falcao, Nacer Chadli and Aleksandr Golovin - struggled to impose their game. And, thanks to some dazzling work from Hatem Ben Arfa, who mazed his way around the edge of the Monaco area before releasing Benjamin Bourigeaud to lash an angled shot home (30').
However, Rony Lopes basin fine fettle for Monaco, creating an umber of dangerous situations before finding the equaliser ten minutes into the second half. Racing into the area, the Portuguese got on the end of youngster Julien Serrano's lightly deflected cross, poking out a foot to beat Thomas Koubek at his far post (55').
With the scores still tied at 1-1 come the final whistle, the match moved onto penalties, with Loïc Badiashile putting an end to a tense shoot-out when - just after opposite number Koubek had fired over - he beat the Czech gloveman to clinch an extremely welcome win for Henry's side.
THE PLAYER: Loïc Badiashile
The 20-year-old 'keeper, who has played just one half of Ligue 1 Conforama football - played back in the 2016-17 season, in a 3-2 win over Rennes - turned in an impressive performance in the shoot-out. Not only did his three saves cancel out misses from captain Youri Tielemans, brand-new senior defensive recruit Naldo and former captain Kamil Glik, but his own successful spot-kick sealed Thierry Henry's embattled team victory and a place in the Coupe de la Ligue semis.
THE STAT: 21.2
The average age in Thierry Henry's squad is just 24.6 years, but his starting line-up on Wednesday - which featured five players aged 20 or younger - had an average age of just 21.1 years.