Saint-Etienne rise to second with defeat of Monaco
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Saint-Etienne rose to second in Ligue 1 on Friday night after inflicting a fourth defeat on Monaco. Tunisia midfielder Wahbi Khazri opened the scoring four minutes before half-time when he swept Ole Selnaes’s cross past Monaco goalkeeper Diego Benaglio.
Khazri added a second in the 54th minute for his 40th career goal in Ligue 1 and his fourth of the season.
It was Saint-Etienne’s third consecutive win. “In one week we’ve taken nine points to get towards the top of the table and I’m delighted,” said Saint-Etienne coach Jean-Louis Gasset. “The team is doing well. The players who didn’t play at Toulouse on Tuesday came in and did really well. To be among the top five after eight games is a good achievement.”
Underachievement clouds the normally sunny horizons at Monaco. "Defensively, we made mistakes for which we paid dearly, especially on Khazri's first goal," admitted Monaco boss Leonardo Jardim.
"We need to pay more attention to these type of situations. In principle, if we have six chances then we must score two or three goals but our players lack confidence."
Monaco finished the 2017/18 season in second place behind Paris Saint-Germain. But while PSG have won their first seven top flight games of the new campaign, Monaco have lost four matches to lie in the relegation zone with six points from eight games.
Jardim’s men have also gone down to PSG in the French Super Cup and Atletico Madrid in the group stages of this season’s Uefa Champions League.
Following the 1-0 defeat at home to Angers on 25 September, Jardim urged his players to react to their poor start to the season.
In an effort to spark the resurgence, the 44-year-old Portuguese trainer made seven changes to the team. His plan backfired miserably and his position at the club will come under further pressure.
But so too will the policies of Monaco’s top brass who have sanctioned the sale of more than 500 million euros worth of talent over the past two seasons including the transfer of the French wunderkind Kylian Mbappé to PSG. Portugal international Bernardo Silva and the France defender Benjamin Mendy left for Manchester City in 2017 and striker Thomas Lemar departed for Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2018.
“The present situation in the league is very disappointing,” said Monaco vice-president Vadim Vasilyev. “We lack confidence. We showed a lot of quality to get into good positions but couldn’t get the ball into the net.
“The players gave everything in the match so it’s just time to roll up our sleeves and work hard. I am positive things will turn round.”
Monaco face Borussia Dortmund on 3 October for their second game in Group A of the Champions League. By then the Germans could be pacesetters in the Bundesliga. They can go top if they win at mid-table Bayer Leverkusen.
On Friday night Bayern Munich’s unbeaten start to the season was ended at Hertha Berlin. Vedad Ibisevic and Ondrej Duda scored Hertha’s goals in the 2-0 victory which took them up to second.