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Monaco close gap on third as Ben Yedder downs relegation threatened Ajaccio

Ben Yedder celebrates his goal
Ben Yedder celebrates his goalAFP
AS Monaco beat AC Ajaccio 2-0 in Ligue 1’s early action and claimed a fifth consecutive H2H win over L’ours with relative ease, despite being nowhere near as prolific as they were during a 7-1 victory earlier in the season.

Having been blown away in the early stages of the reverse fixture, Ajaccio offered greater resistance to Les Monégasques’ advances at Stade François Coty. L’ours were still stretched at times though, as epitomised by their issues down the left. Youcef Belaïli and Ismaël Diallo were both booked in the opening quarter-hour, with the latter soon going off due to an injury sustained making his late challenge on Ruben Aguilar.

Awful defending from a Caio Henrique free-kick proved to be the hosts’ downfall with 27 minutes on the clock. Benjamin Leroy made an impressive save from Guillermo Maripán’s header, when the Chilean was left in acres of space, but the ball fell to Wissam Ben Yedder, who showed the predatory instinct of a man scoring his 22nd goal across all competitions this term. Ajaccio have lacked that same bite, and the league’s lowest goalscorers never truly troubled Alexander Nübel before the break, despite Monaco hardly getting out of second gear.

Any chances of an unlikely Ajaccio comeback took two hits before the hour mark. Cyrille Bayala was shown a straight red card for a reckless challenge on Henrique, before their top scorer Belaïli went off injured. Les Rouge et Blanc still didn’t step things up in a match that completely lacked any real spark, and Takumi Minamino took himself wide after Krépin Diatta had done well to dispossess Mickaël Alphonse and tee up his fellow substitute.

See stats from the match at Flashscore

Such sloppiness could have been punished at the other end, after Aguilar conceded possession, although Axel Disasi raced back to block Kevin Spadanuda’s shot before Riad Nouri sent the follow-up wide. Diatta then got behind to reach Mohamed Camara’s through ball and scored a long-awaited second with a delicate dink to remove any lingering doubt.

After what was ultimately a straightforward win in Corsica, Philippe Clement’s men ended a run of four matches across all competitions without a victory. On the other hand, Ajaccio stay in the relegation zone after suffering a 1-0 defeat for the third game in a row, and simply must show greater bravery and guile if they are to mastermind a first successful top-flight survival since 2013.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Axel Disasi (AS Monaco)

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