Champions League

Monaco seal Last 16 spot

2014-12-10 00:00
Monaco (AFP)

Monaco - Goals by Aymen Abdennour and Fabinho secured French side Monaco a 2-0 win over Zenit St Petersburg and a place in the knockout stages of the Champions League for the first time since 2004 the year they reached the final.

The French side -- who scored just five goals in the six group games -- also finished top of the group as Bayer Leverkusen drew 0-0 away away against Benfica, who finished bottom of the group with Zenit left with the bitter consolation of the Europa League spot.

The opening 15 minutes were a cagey affair although Zenit did mmanage to work one promising chance but Jose Rondon's shot from inside the area was well blocked by Brazilian Under-21 international defender Wallace.

Monaco were doing the job in terms of keeping Zenit at bay and only occasionally went on the counter-attack, their best one being a determined run from former France midfielder Jeremy Toulalan with his shot after cutting inside from the right, going just wide of the near post.

It was Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic who had to make the first save of the match, which the spectators had to wait 40 minutes for, getting down to save a Nicolas Lombaerts header.

Monaco front man Dimitar Berbatov, who had barely had a touch of the ball, was forced off shortly before the hour mark with what looked like a rib injury, as he had an ice pack strapped to them shortly after taking his place on the bench.

However, his team-mates more than made up for his departure by taking the lead in the 63rd minute, Tunisian Aymen Abdennour rising to head home Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco's beautifully delivered freekick -- only the third goal of their campaign -- to give Prince Albert II of Monaco, sitting in the stands, reason to smile.

Zenit went desperately close to levelling with 20 minutes remaining as Hulk's curling freekick from long range crept over the bar, but Monaco too used the extra space being left at the back as the visitors pressed for an equaliser and Moroccan midfielder Nabil Dirar sent a fizzing shot just wide of the far post.

The hosts doubled their lead and ensured they took their place in the last 16 draw as Fabinho fired home a left-footed shot two minutes from time provoking Prince Albert on this occasion to get up from his seat in celebration.

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