"The players have written an extraordinary chapter in the history of Monaco and French football." Didier Deschamps
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Having won the UEFA Champions League twice in the previous four seasons, Real Madrid CF were expected to reach the semi-finals for the fourth year running, especially after winning the first leg 4-2. But a full house at the Stade Louis II witnessed an epic comeback by an AS Monaco FC side spearheaded by Madrid's own on-loan striker Fernando Morientes.
Morientes had already scored against his employers at the Santiago Bernabéu, his late strike had appeared little more than consolatory as the 'galacticos' ran riot in Madrid. There was little indication that the return would be any different, not least after Raúl González opened scored on 36 minutes with an assured finish took him past Ferenc Puskás on Madrid's all-time scorers' list. Monaco had other ideas.
The match turned on the stroke of half-time when Patrice Evra's diagonal ball was cushioned by Morientes – a constant aerial threat – into the path of Ludovic Giuly, who fired low inside the far post from 20 metres. Didier Deschamps' side still required two goals, and the first came three minutes after the interval from the same source, with Evra's cross met by a thumping Morientes header – the Spanish striker's seventh goal in nine European games in 2003/04.
The former Madrid man might have scored again when he connected with Hugo Ibarra's crossfield pass, but was thwarted by Iker Casillas. It was, however, an indication of Monaco's growing belief. Their desire to win was epitomised midway through the half by Édouard Cissé. He snuffed out a Madrid attack, received a return pass under pressure and then had the presence of mind to dummy Ibarra's low cross, which Giuly cleverly back-heeled through the legs of Roberto Carlos and in.
Monaco, who twice hit the post on the break through Shabani Nonda, survived two scares when Raul's header was ruled out for offside, and the same player fired over a he reached for Zinédine Zidane's added-time cross. The Monégasques held on to reach the last four for the second time.
"The players have written an extraordinary chapter in the history of AS Monaco, and for French football," said Deschamps. "It shows that in football anything is possible if you believe it deep down." They were not done yet.