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Defensive steel takes Monaco past Zenit

AS Monaco FC 2-0 FC Zenit
Defenders Aymen Abdennour and Fabinho struck, doubling their side's goal tally in Group C, to take Monaco through as section winners.

Monaco, who needed point to progress at Zenit's expense, through with win
Only two teams have ever scored fewer than ASM's four goals and advanced
Zenit finish third in Group C and enter the UEFA Europa League
Aymen Abdennour scores for the first time since November 2012
• Round of 16 draw takes place in Nyon at 12.00CET on 15 December

Second-half goals from defenders Aymen Abdennour and Fabinho earned AS Monaco FC a 2-0 victory over FC Zenit that clinched top spot in Group C and took the Ligue 1 side through to the UEFA Champions League round of 16.

Monaco needed a draw to advance, and once again made best use of limited opportunities. Given defence had proven their best form of attack throughout the competition, it was fitting that Abdennour and Fabinho got their goals at the Stade Louis II. With Bayer 04 Leverkusen held to a goalless draw at SL Benfica, Monaco leapfrogged the Bundesliga club at the summit. Zenit finished third and move into the UEFA Europa League.

Monaco had remained in contention to progress thanks to their defensive qualities, and they again came to the fore to keep at bay visitors needing a win to pip their opponents to a last-16 place. Surprisingly given only his second UEFA Champions League outing, Wallace did not look out of his depth, making a pair of timely first-half interceptions.

The wicked delivery of Zenit captain Danny had suggested the visitors' most fruitful strategy may be to exploit set pieces. Yet the only time Danijel Subašić was significantly troubled before the break was when Nicolas Lombaerts rose to head goalwards – the Monaco keeper eased to his right to clutch the Belgian centre-back's effort.

Home forays forward were rare, but – as they have done throughout the group stage – Monaco proved incredibly efficient. Captain Jérémy Toulalan snaked into the Zenit penalty area before firing narrowly wide, before Dimitar Berbatov produced an improvised, flicked effort that might have found the net but for a deflection off Lombaerts.

Berbatov's opportunity had been created by Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco, and the Belgian was central to his team breaking the deadlock and with it, securing Monaco's progress in the competition. Zenit had delivered a number of searching free-kicks into the penalty area without finding a target; Ferreira-Carrasco picked out Abdennour, whose powerful header flashed past Yuri Lodygin.

As Zenit pressed for an equaliser, Monaco exploited the space vacated by the visitors, and – after being picked out by João Moutinho's pass – Fabinho fired clinically between Lodygin's legs to complete victory. The shine was slightly diminished by a late yellow card for Toulalan which means he will be suspended for the first leg of his team's last-16 tie.