Monaco survive Arsenal onslaught to advance
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
AS Monaco FC 0-2 Arsenal FC (agg: 3-3, Monaco win on away goals)
Aaron Ramsey struck 11 minutes from time to set up a grandstand finish, but the hosts just about hung on.
Article top media content
• Monaco through to last eight for the first time since reaching the final in 2004
• Aaron Ramsey makes it 2-0 on the night 11 minutes from time
• Danijel Subašić claws late effort around the post as Monaco hang on
•Exclusive behind-the-scenes photos from second leg at the Stade Louis II
• Quarter-final draw in Nyon on 20 March at 12.00CET
AS Monaco FC are through to the quarter-finals for the first time since 2003/04 – but they were pushed all the way by an Arsenal FC side who came close to making history.
No team had ever recovered a 3-1 first-leg defeat at home in the UEFA Champions League but perhaps none have come closer than the Gunners. They took the game to their opponents' feted back line throughout. Olivier Giroud pulled one back before the interval and Aaron Ramsey struck 11 minutes from time to leave them on the brink. They so nearly got over the line, a combination of Alexis Sánchez and Giroud meeting a cross at the far post that Danijel Subašić clawed wide.
The first attempt actually came from Monaco and João Moutinho amid an enterprising start but once Giroud had sent a shot across the bows, heading just wide on 14 minutes, the hosts battened down the hatches. Arsenal began testing for weaknesses: sending in high balls, through balls, balls down the channels. They were all treated the same: smeared back into their own half by a Monaco defender. Try again.
It was a dangerous game, and even if the flag was up for offside when Laurent Koscielny hooked against the crossbar, a warning was served. It was not heeded. Soon after, the lively Danny Welbeck slipped Giroud through and while Subašić blocked his initial effort, there was nothing the keeper could do as the Arsenal forward speared the ball in with his weaker right foot.
There was not a flicker of a smile, only muted celebrations – there was still plenty to do. Monaco were rocking, grateful for a fortuitous block from Aymen Abdennour, lying prone near his goal line, when Welbeck connected with a fizzing shot. The suffocating pressure continued after half-time but gradually Monaco eased off the tourniquet, committing more men forward and forcing the Gunners onto the back foot.
Arsène Wenger, in familiar surrounds at the Stade Louis II, sought to drive them back, introducing Ramsey for the more defensive Francis Coquelin. It was all or nothing now. Mesut Özil sent a half-volley just wide, then with 11 minutes to go Theo Walcott hit the post and Layvin Kurzawa contrived to clear straight to Ramsey: the substitute did the rest to set up a grandstand finale. Monaco somehow held on to advance on away goals.