The loud cheering of the 600 fans who traveled with them did not help: The Styrians were defeated 0: 1.
Sturm Graz started the group stage of the Football Europa League on Thursday with a 0: 1 (0: 1) at AS Monaco. Krepin Diatta (66th) secured the tight but well-deserved opening victory of the favorite from the principality. Ivan Ljubic hit the crossbar for brave, but offensively harmless Grazers when the score was 0-0. Sturm will continue on September 30th in the home game against PSV Eindhoven. The Dutch drew 2-2 at home with Real Sociedad.
Sturm coach Christian Ilzer was able to offer his currently nominally strongest team, with the slightly more defensive Ljubic in ten position. Monaco coach Niko Kovac, whose team had recently weakened in the championship, rebuilt his team, initially doing without the otherwise set defender Benoit Badiashile and also the French team striker Wissam Ben Yedder. His line-up poker should work.
It is true that 600 people from Graz who traveled with them did a lot of business in the sparsely visited Stade Louis II and thus turned the first Sturm appearance in a European group phase into an acoustic home game in a decade. However, the game of Graz reigned awe for a long time. Last year’s third in the French league let the ball go, Sturm followed a lot. Wilson Isidor put the first dangerous header (4th) as well as Diatta his attempt with a clear shot (17th) over the bar.
Step by step, Sturm worked his way into the game, keeping the Monegassen better away from goal, but lacking their own moments in possession, which was less than 30 percent in the first half. Then Gelson Martins knocked. The Portuguese first found his master in storm goalie Jörg Siebenhandl (27th) and then narrowly missed after a fine individual performance (30th).
The crossbar prevents guidance
It was only immediately before the break that Sturm put aside the hesitation in possession of the ball. And the first promising attack almost turned out to be a success. At the edge of the penalty area, Hierländer put his heel back on Ljubic, who was rushing up in the back area and whose hard shot hit the crossbar (44th). Bayern loan Alexander Nübel in goal would have been without a chance to defend. It should be the best – and only – Graz chance in the entire game.
Kovac made three changes during the break, bringing in the Spanish ex-world champion Cesc Fabregas and the Russian Alexander Golowin. Shortly thereafter, Wissam Ben Yedder came on for Kevin Volland. The Joker put Monaco on the rails. In the 66th minute, Golowin asserted himself in the penalty area and found Diatta’s head with his cross, who prevailed decisively against Dante in the middle. Monaco had tightened the noose in the previous minutes.
Sturm was under pressure, but could not attack offensively. Ilzer took Kiteishvili and the pale Kelvin Yeboah from the field. Closer to the next gate were the Monegasque, which did not exude much esprit, but managed the narrow lead over time without any problems. Ben Yedder still had the 2-0 down in stoppage time, but Sturm’s David Affengruber cleared the line for his defeated goalie.