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Monaco's Moutinho makes Leverkusen pay

AS Monaco FC 1-0 Bayer 04 Leverkusen
João Moutinho's second-half goal earned three Group C points for the hosts after their German visitors squandered numerous first-half openings.

Monaco's Moutinho makes Leverkusen pay
Monaco's Moutinho makes Leverkusen pay ©UEFA.com

• João Moutinho's 61st-minute goal gives Monaco an opening win
• Leverkusen pay the price for missing a raft of first-half chances
The hosts triumph in their first UEFA Champions League game in a decade
The visitors suffer a maiden competitive defeat of the season
Next games: Leverkusen v Benfica, Zenit v Monaco (1 October)

Bayer 04 Leverkusen were left counting the cost of their wastefulness in front of goal as AS Monaco FC won the pair's Group C opener 1-0.

Prolific before arriving at the Stade Louis II, the Bundesliga leaders were curiously profligate as they passed up a host of opportunities. Instead, João Moutinho's 61st-minute strike leaves Monaco ideally positioned ahead of their matchday two trip to FC Zenit.

With seven UEFA Champions League debutants in a youthful lineup, Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim might have hoped his team would draw inspiration from the members of the 2003/04 UEFA Champions League runners-up side invited to the principality to watch the game. However, despite the hosts' youthful vigour, the moments of inspiration came from the visitors.

A blistering counterattack scattered the Ligue 1 team but when it came to applying the finishing touch, Gonzalo Castro drove wide. Hakan Çalhanoğlu then surged beyond the home back four yet could only find the side-netting before he produced a sublime through ball to enable Karim Bellarabi to break clear. With just Danijel Subašić to beat, he squared the ball for a team-mate who was not there.

With Monaco increasingly on the back foot, Leverkusen swept forward in numbers, but quantity remained no guarantee of quality in front of goal. Another promising opening ended in a deflating outcome as Son Heung-Min shot wide when it appeared the South Korean would give Leverkusen a half-time lead; something Castro might have done had his vicious half-volley not flicked off Layvin Kurzawa to zip over the bar.

Monaco's ability to hit the target was also lacking – that was until Moutinho finally did provide the requisite accuracy. Bursting forward as Kurzawa crossed for Dimitar Berbatov, Moutinho continued his run to latch onto his team-mate's delightful knockdown. A deflection off the lunging Emir Spahić helped take the Portuguese international's shot beyond Bernd Leno.

Bolstered by their advantage, Monaco's confidence swelled as Leverkusen's dissipated. Only when Subašić comfortably parried a Çalhanoğlu drive from distance did home hopes look in jeopardy, and Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco even threatened to add a second as Monaco coasted to the final whistle.

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