Monaco knew what they had to do, but had to muster all their luck to keep Arsenal from scoring three times on Tuesday night.
When the dust settles and people look back on Arsenal’s 2-0 victory over Monaco in the second leg of their last-16 Champions League tie, the only thing that will be remembered is that it was the French side that advanced to the quarter-finals.
The Ligue 1 outfit may have parked the bus, but it is what they had to do to reach the last eight, and most teams in their position would have done the same thing.
For this group of Monaco players, it has been their first Champions League adventure, and the phrase “learning on the job” has never been so apt. With a 3-1 lead from the Emirates, Leonardo Jardim was in a very tricky position. Attack from the off and you leave yourself open to a very talented Arsenal team, sit too deep and you are inviting extra unwanted pressure.
On paper, Arsenal are without doubt a better team, but it is always hard to argue that the better side doesn’t go through over two legs. Monaco were superb in London, they were brave and attacking away from home, and got the three goals that put them in a strong position.
During the second leg they showed a lot of naivety and will learn a lot from their performance.
All too often they gave the ball away cheaply in midfield, causing the defence to be put under an extraordinary amount of pressure. Despite the experience of Joao Moutinho and Jeremy Toulalan, it was the inexperience of Geoffrey Kondogbia, Layvin Kurzawa, Fabinho and others that led to Monaco conceding possession more often than they would have liked.
In any cup competition, you need to ride your luck, and there is no doubt Monaco have been amazingly fortunate. Shots being blocked by various parts of defenders' bodies, superb saves and missed chances, all a factor in their victory.
The English press will talk about brave Arsenal, or how bad the London club were in the first leg, but at the end of the day, Monaco got the job done.
The side from just outside Monte Carlo put all their chips on the table and came away with something to show for it.
Jardim’s job is to now make sure his team learn from that performance and use it to their advantage in the next round. They would love to draw a team like Porto, but perhaps taking on Bayern Munich or Real Madrid would suit their counter-punching style better.