Monaco will be forced into a play-off for UEFA Champions League (UCL) group stage qualification as a late Lens equaliser secured them a deserved point and extended their unbeaten run to eight consecutive Ligue 1 games at home.
The Stade Bollaert-Delelis was a sea of yellow and red as Lens supporters rallied their side against a Monaco side in top form. ‘Les Sang et or’ fans were off their seat in the early stages as top scorer Arnaud Kalimuendo fired an early warning with a low shot saved by the legs of Monaco goalkeeper Alexander Nübel. Despite being seven games unbeaten, Lens needed to win and rely on other results to get into Europe and it was a dominant opening for the home side, who pegged the ‘Monégasques’ back into their own half.
Franck Haise’s side continued with their momentum and former Manchester City midfielder Seko Fofana went close when he danced into the area only to be denied by Nübel. Lens eventually took the lead on 30 minutes when a whipped cross saw Nübel palm the ball into the path of Przemysław Frankowski who fired home. However, just moments later and against the run of play, Monaco equalised when Benoȋt Badiashile bundled the ball home from a corner.
Some adventurous runs from winger Jonathan Clauss gave Lens a bright start to the second half but Monaco captain Wissam Ben Yedder, who had been largely quiet by his own high standards, showed his class with a blistering run which had the Lens defence backtracking. In an end to end contest, Monaco turned the game around when Ben Yedder nodded home from a delightful cross by Kevin Volland, before Fofana reminded the away side that the game wasn’t finished as his curling effort was superbly saved by Nübel just moments later.
Monaco didn’t heed the warning however, and Lens dramatically equalised in stoppage time through Ignatius Ganogo, as the away side lost their grip on an automatic qualification to the UCL group stages in remarkable circumstances and missed an opportunity for a tenth straight Ligue 1 victory.