Monaco sealed first place in Group E of the Champions League with a 2-1 win over Tottenham in a thrilling display of attacking football on Tuesday.
Needing just a draw against the only side to remain unbeaten in the Premier League to progress to the knockout phase, Monaco did not hold back. However, it took the hosts 48 minutes to break the deadlock with a goal from Djibril Sidibe, who then turned provider when Thomas Lemar scored the winner five minutes later.
Harry Kane had equalized from the penalty spot for Spurs, which can no longer qualify for the knockout phase.
“We got ourselves back in the game at 1-1 and it was schoolboy to concede straight after that,” Kane said. “We had to try to grind out a win because we were not great tonight. The second goal took the stuffing out of us. I just don’t think on the day we were good enough.”
Monaco went ahead when Sidibe, unmarked in the box, planted a powerful header into the net from Benjamin Mendy’s cross.
Monaco could not hold on to its lead for long as a rare mistake from Kamil Glik, who dragged Dele Alli down in the area, resulted in a penalty. Kane converted it with a powerful spot-kick.
But Spurs’ defensive inadequacies were exposed less than a minute after their equalizer. From the resulting kick-off, Sidibe burst down the right before crossing for Lemar. The highly-praised midfielder, who scored in the corresponding fixture in September at Wembley, restored Monaco’s advantage with a shot into the far corner.
“It was a great evening,” Sidibe said. “We’re playing with a conquering mindset at the moment.”
It was a deserved win for Monaco, which was the better team for most of the game.
In a lively start, Tottenham created the first dangerous move when Son Heung-min beat the offside trap on a swift counterattack but lost his one-on-one with Danijel Subasic. The South-Korean winger vainly tried to dribble the Monaco keeper and was forced wide.
The hosts replied immediately through Fabinho, who made the most of a poor clearance to make his way into the box and was brought down by Eric Dier. Radamel Falcao, the Monaco captain, took the penalty – only to see his low shot to the bottom corner superbly blocked by Hugo Lloris’s diving save.
With Kevin Wimmer replacing Jan Vertonghen in the heart of Tottenham’s back four, Spurs struggled defensively and Monaco – the highest-scoring side in Europe’s main domestic leagues – gradually took control.
With its midfielders often losing possession and committing a series of fouls as they tried to recover the ball, Tottenham failed to produce a single shot in goal during the opening 45 minutes.
The French league side had another good chance when Mendy sent a cross-shot goalwards that Lloris parried away. Left unmarked in the area, Monaco striker Valere Germain tried his luck from the rebound but his header was too weak to surprise Lloris.
Falcao and Sidibe then missed the target and Germain again came close after a pass from Bernardo Silva in midfield sent him through. The striker raced down the right flank and fired an angled low shot that ended just wide.
Monaco created two more clear chances through Glik and Falcao after Lemar put the hosts back in front but Lloris ensured a nervy finale with some decisive saves.
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