Fabregas makes bright start for Monaco against OM
Cesc Fabregas was handed his AS Monaco debut against Olympique de Marseille, and helped the struggling principality side to a 1-1 draw at the Orange Vélodrome.
Olympique de Marseille 1-1 AS Monaco
Monaco coach Thierry Henry handed Ligue 1 Conforama debuts to his former Arsenal teammate as well as veteran Brazilian centre-back Naldo, but there was precious little they could do about Marseille taking the lead. Dimitri Payet's free-kick was cleared as far as Maxime Lopez, and the 21-year-old fired a rocket of a shot beyond Diego Benaglio for 1-0 (13'). The principality side were back on level terms before the half was out, though. Rony Lopes had already fired a warning shot into Steve Mandanda's gloves (24') before Youri Tielemans got free in the Marseille box to meet Aleksandr Golovin's shot and steer home his fifth goal of the campaign (38').
Monaco should have taken the lead with the second half barely five minutes old. Fodé Ballo-Touré, like Fabregas and Naldo a winter signing - in his case from LOSC - got free down the left before squaring for Golovin, but the Russian's effort shaved the wrong side of the post (51'). Naldo, scorer of some 46 goals in the Bundesliga before his own winter switch from Schalke, lined up a trademark free-kick on the hour, but his effort only got as far as Bouna Sarr, who deflected it clear (60'). Florian Thauvin thought he had given OM the lead soon after having reacted quickest to Lucas Ocampos' deflected attempt but the effort was ruled out with the Argentine adjudged to have fouled Benaglio (70'). Benaglio pulled off a stunning save late on to deny Thauvin once again (80') and it ended 1-1.
THE PLAYER: Youri Tielemans
Fabregas stole most of the pre-match headlines but it was central midfield partner Tielemans who did most of the damage on Sunday. The Belgium international's 16 challenges and four shots on goal were both team highs. A complete performance.
THE STAT: 5
Fabregas became the fifth Spaniard to turn out for Monaco in the French top flight, following Fernando Morientes, Gerard, Borja Lopez and Jordi Mboula. All but Morientes spent time in Barcelona's youth academy.