A double from Valère Germain earned the Red & Whites a 2-1 win against LOSC and a place in the semi-finals of the Coupe de France.
Although Leonardo Jardim rang the changes in his team for this Coupe de France quarter-final, the line-up still contained three of the players who started Saturday’s Coupe de la Ligue final: Germain, Moutinho and Mendy. In midfield, Fabinho ran the show from the start. Up against a very company Lille side, AS Monaco saw plenty of the ball without finding space to pose a threat to the Maignan’s goal. They first went close through a couple of Moutinho free-kicks, but the Portuguese European Champion’s initial effort was held by Maignan, while the second deflected off the wall.
GERMAIN AT THE DOUBLE
In the 36th minute, the Red & Whites finally made the breakthrough. Germain showed perfect control to give himself a sight of goal in the box and unleashed a powerful shot that flew into the top of the net and put AS Monaco in front. Lille’s job was made even harder on 40 minutes when Arcus brought down Jorge who was through on goal. The defender was deemed to be the last man, and was duly given his marching orders. And to add insult to injury, Cardona found Germain in front of goal in first half injury time, and despite being off balance the skipper steered home to give AS Monaco a 2-0 half-time lead, while Soumaoro had to come off for Lille with an Achilles injury.
MONEGASQUE CONTROL VS LILLE COUNTERS
The pattern of the game remained unchanged after the break, with AS Monaco well on top, but Lille mounted two raids of their own through Kishna and El Ghazi. The former let fly with a 30 yard thunderbolt that slammed against De Sanctis’ crossbar (57 mins), while t he latter went on a solo run through the entire Monegasque defence before scuffing a shot that was easily held low down by the AS Monaco ‘keeper (61 mins). For the home side, Cardona missed a one-on-one with Maignan (58 mins), before the Lille stopper kept out an effort from Jorge (59 mins). Germain then found himself in front of the visitors’ goal again, but the captain was unable to reach a left-wing cross. AS Monaco were looking for a third and it almost came when Cardona cleverly set up Moutinho on the edge of the area (66 mins). The Portuguese man’s shot was deflected, and though Germain had followed up he could not find the target (69 mins).
EL TIGRE RETURNS
Two other Portuguese internationals then made their appearance on the pitch, with Silva coming on for AS Monaco (in place of Cardona) and Eder for Lille (in place of Mavuba). With the clock ticking into the final fifteen minutes, Germain carved out two chances in quick succession, side-footing just wide before sending a 20 yard strike over the bar. Having come so close to a hat-trick, he was replaced by Falcao moments later. El Tigre was quickly into the action from a free-kick, forcing Maignan to punch clear (83 mins), before seeing a shot blocked by a Lille defender’s back in the 86th minute. In stoppage time, El Ghazi pulled one back for Lille with a free-kick but the job was already done for the Red & Whites, who are safely into the semi-finals, setting up a 61st match in a season that’s as busy as it is thrilling!