Monaco (AFP)

Monaco, which remained on four defeats and a draw in six games, resumed, in difficulty, with the victory against the Austrians of Sturm Graz (1-0), Thursday evening during the first day of Group B of the Europa League.

From an accounting perspective, the Principality's team is doing a good job and, with three units, is leading its group before its trip to Anoeta, to face Real Sociedad on September 29.

On the ground, the reality is less brilliant.

Because Sturm Graz is certainly the weakest team in Pool B and, with a view to qualifying, victory was an obligation.

However, it was very complicated to obtain.

It took coach Niko Kovac to bring in Caio Henrique, Aleksandr Golovin, Cesc Fabregas and Wissam Ben Yedder to achieve this.

Coming as neighbors to prepare for the most important match of the week, Sunday's derby at the Allianz-Riviera, Christophe Galtier, the Nice coach, and his assistant, Frédéric Gioria, will have noticed the current feverishness of the Monegasques.

- Weak first period -

The first half certainly did not reassure Monaco supporters, including Monegasque F1 driver Charles Leclerc, present in the stands.

Despite seven changes from the starting lineup who lost against Marseille (2-0) last Saturday night, despite overall domination (70% possession), Kovac's men were unable to score for a long time.

Moreover, they only framed one attempt, by Gelson Martins (26th).

But Jörg Siebenhandl was vigilant.

The Monegasques, thanks to Krepin Diatta, beat the Austrians of Sturm Graz, in the Europa League, on September 16, 2021 at "Louis II Valery HACHE AFP

For the rest, neither Wilson Isidor (4th), nor Krepin Diatta (12th and 17th), nor Martins (30th), nor Kevin Volland (42nd) were precise.

However, the pace of this first period was far removed from that of a Ligue 1 meeting. The Sturm Graz, limited training, never exerted intense pressure, in order to destabilize their opponent.

- Kovac changes everything -

However, it was Christian Ilzer's players who offered themselves the best opportunity.

On one of their rare collective outings, captain Stefan Hierländer shifted perfectly Ivan Ljubic.

His powerful strike was repelled by the crossbar while Alexander Nübel seemed beaten (42nd).

At the break, Kovac therefore stopped the costs.

Ismail Jakobs and Wilson Isidor, in great pain, have been replaced by Fabregas and Caio Henrique.

Golovin took over from Gelson Martins, the most enterprising Monegasque.

Faced with the still sluggish spectacle, Ben Yedder also came into play in place of a tired Volland (60th).

AS Monaco coach Niko Kovac replaces his players during the match against Sturm Graz at Louis II, September 16, 2021 Valery HACHE AFP

The Austrians then gave in to pressure from the Red and White.

Following a combination between Ben Yedder and Fabregas in the box, Golovin overflowed and centered for Diatta, who with a smashed header delivered his own (1-0, 66th).

Without ever being afraid, Monaco then mastered the end of the meeting to win.

But to know if this victory, torn off in difficulty, can represent a basis for a possible renewal, it will be necessary to show much more Sunday in Nice and Wednesday against Saint-Etienne.

© 2021 AFP

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