Superior and serene, the Monegasques again easily beat Sparta Prague (3-1) this Tuesday evening at the Stade Louis-II. An easy victory that allows the players of the Rock to access the dams of the Champions League, where they will face a much tougher opponent on paper: Shakhtar Donetsk.
Monaco 3-1 Sparta Prague
Buts : Martins (50e), Golovin (56e) and Diop (81e) for Monaco // Moberg-Karlsson (78e) for Sparta
The opposition was too weak for AS Monaco. Or they were just too strong for this Sparta Prague. Imperials both in the first leg and in the return, this Tuesday evening on the lawn of Louis-II, the players of the Rock once again gained the ascendancy without forcing against the champion of the Czech Republic (3-1). A clear domination which recalls that the third of the last French championship legitimately postulates for a place in the group stage of the Champions League.
A monk growing up
With just one change in the starting XI concocted by Niko Kovač (Djibril Sidibé holder in place of Ruben Aguilar), the Monegasques start the game very, if not too quietly, like a completely missed pass from Nübel, offering a huge opportunity at Sparta and Sáček, countered by Badiashile. Behind, the Rock players wake up and push on Niță’s goals, but the Romanian goalkeeper from Sparta Prague is imperial against Volland. Monaco dominates (64% possession at the break, 9 shots to 2) and manages without worries its two-pawn lead acquired in the Czech Republic in the first leg. But like Caio Henrique, untenable on his right side, Kovač’s men lack precision in the last movements and return to the break empty-handed after a beautiful horizontal from Niță on a jewel of Golovin that the Russian was already seeing in the background .
More than a ride
The intensity climbs from the start of the second act on each side. First for Sparta and Pesek who sees his shot fly away, before Volland misses his duel against Niță. In great form, the latter can however do absolutely nothing on the opening of the score of Gelson Martins, who starts “bottom line” before sending a praline in a very closed angle under the bar of the 34-year-old goalkeeper, surprised and helpless (1-0, 50e). The Portuguese stood out moments later in the Czech area, again attempting the shot alone, without success, rather than serving Golovin on his left. The Red take the water completely and concede a second goal quickly on a caviar from Ben Yedder for Golovin, who not without difficulty places the ball small net (2-0, 56e).
The contract fulfilled and the break made, Kovač can afford to blow his executives and thank the absence of the VAR on the goal denied to Hložek for a non-existent offside. On the other hand, he will certainly have a few words to address to Nübel, guilty of another big recovery error punished this time by Moberg-Karlsson (2-1, 78e). A dumpling without consequence and erased three minutes later by Diop, who lets his talent speak to extinguish Panak and Niță (3-1, 81e). Now it’s time for the next and final qualifying round, which promises to be much tougher against Roberto De Zerbi’s Shakhtar Donetsk.
Monaco (4-4-2) : Nübel – Sidibé, Disasi, Badiashile, Henrique (Jakobs, 60e) – Martins (Diatta, 59e), Fofana, Tchouaméni (Matazo, 60e), Golovin (Diop, 60e) – Volland (Fàbregas, 67e), Ben Yedder. Coach: Niko Kovac.
Sparta Prague (4-3-3) : Niță – Wiesner (Gabriel, 84e), Panak, Hancko, Polidar – Souček, Pavelka, Sáček (Pulkrab, 59e) – Karabec (Patrak, 84e), Hložek (Minchev, 67e), Pešek (Moberg-Karlsson, 67e). Coach: Pavel Vrba.
By Fabien Gelinat