Wow what a nerve racking match that was, thankfully though Valencia CF wins 4-3 on aggregate and will feature in the group stages of the Champions league.
Valencia CF started the match brightly, in fact so much so that Mustafi had an early chance to score through a volley, followed by few more opportunities in the penalty area, but it was Negredo who would score the first goal in the 4th minute. He stole a ball from Monaco, ran forward and towards the penalty area and then masterfully lobbed the goalkeeper to give Valencia CF the lead.
His goal would prove crucial as AS Monaco did score twice in the game, so if not for Negredo's goal Valencia CF would have been the ones packing the bags and heading out of the champions league. Thankfully though the early pressure and attacking spirit worked, giving Valencia CF that important goal to push them through.
As I said it was all Valencia CF for the first 15 minutes, AS Monaco were held back on their side of the field and were barely able to pass their own half, it was all Valencia CF prodding and probing from the wings, from central play and causing all sorts of problems for the Monaco defense.
As soon as AS Monaco took back control of the match and gained possession they managed to score, and it was by a rare mistake by Valencias goalkeeper. He rushed in to punch the ball, but he completely misjudged the flow of the ball so his punch whiffed and Andrea Raggi managed to get the ball, move a bit further up, then turn and propel a shot in the right low corner. Once again Ryan was left watching the ball go in the net.
Those were the key moments in the first half, I mean Valencia CF did have some other minor chances, as did AS Monaco, but it was mostly a midfield battle with both sides taking turns attacking.
The second half was completely different though, and it was AS Monaco this time who were the attackers, they instantly took control of the match and were looking for goals with their Champions league life on the line.
With Valencia's control slipping more and more as the match progressed Nuno decided to make a change and brought on Paco for Negredo. Kind of a strange substitute, considering Negredo's physicality was helping Valencia win a lot of fights in the air and he was kind of the man to win a foul in good spots for Valencia CF. So as suspected from the start this substitution would backfire as Valencia CF lost even more control and Paco was left on the periphery of the action.
Another change was Piatti for Moreno, clearly a more defensive move to try and freshen up the left side and better protect it in defense, but again this just led to less control for Valencia CF, as Moreno and Negredo were great in moving the ball forward, they both had great game.
Anyways Monaco's constant pressure would pay off as they would score a second goal after a free kick was given to them, some 25 meters from the goal. It was from the left side, but once again on the fault of the goalkeeper he only requested two man wall, even though it was a dangerous and close position and to make matters worse they weren't position good, so the following cross made a complete chaos in the penalty area with someone from Monaco managing to get to beat Feghouli to the ball and score the second goal.
After that it was basically the Monaco show, with Valencia CF barely even touching the ball and defending for dear life. Thankfully Nuno saw that Enzo Perez was tired and unable to continue the game, so he brought in Danilo for him and this gave Valencia CF some breathing room. He was able to use his freshness to cover greater distances and keep the ball for longer periods which was crucial.
It got completely nerve racking when the referee decided on 6 minute stoppage time, I think record stoppage time in recent years in the Champions league, something very, very rarely given, I do think it was way too much, but it was as it was and it was extremely scary 6 minutes with Valencia CF holding on for dear life.
Thankfully the team was able to withstand the constant barrage of attacks and end victorious!
AS Monaco: Subašić, Fabinho, Raggi, Carvalho, Kurzawa (Elderson, m. 62), Toulalan, Pašalić (Lemar, m. 52), Dirar, Bernardo Silva, Cavaleiro (Carrillo, m. 64), Martial.
Valencia CF: Ryan, Barragán, Mustafi, Vezo, Gayà, Javi Fuego, Dani Parejo, Enzo Pérez (Danilo, m. 77), De Paul, Feghouli, Rodrigo (Piatti, m. 65), Negredo (Alcácer, m. 60).
Alvaro Negredo 0-1, 4 min.
Andrea Raggi 1-1, 17 min.
Elderson 2-1, 75 min.
Ryan 4.5 - At fault for the first goal and then didn't position enough people for the wall for the second. I think the pressure of a big match got to him, in what has otherwise been 2 great games previosly.
Barragan 6.5 - Defended superbly and always aware of his surroundings, enabling him to control the ball with confidence and make the right decision. Went forward to a good extent as well, especially in the first half.
Mustafi 6 - Can't fault him for the goals, it was just chaos for the first goal and chaos for the second goal.
Vezo 6 - Again not at fault directly for the goal, kept good positioning, but did have some troubles when run at directly.
Gaya 5 - Poor defensive display as he was too light in the tackle and too focused on positioning instead of marking. Clearly an area where he could improve.
Fuego 6.5 - Tireless performance at the back, shielding the back four time and time again and just covering Monaco players constantly.
Enzo 5.5 - Was quite involved early in the first half, but grew more and more distant as the game went on. Whether he was tired in the second half or maybe he received some knock he was clearly unable to play at a satisfactory level.
Parejo 6 - Involved early on in the attacks and always ran forward and tried to provide help in attack. Pushed back to defend in the second half and did fairly well, marking quite good.
Feghouli 7.5 - A work horse in attack and at the back. He was constantly running forward and causing all sorts of problems for the Monaco defense, while always tracking back as well and being involved defensively, key performance.
Negredo 6.5 - Superbly taken goal and his physicality help Valencia CF to get fouls in good positions. Was able to threaten several times.
Moreno 6.5 - Good movement, good dribbling finally from him and really seemed at home on that left flank. Involved in most of Valencia CF attacks.
Paco 5 - The game largely passed by him, though he did help out more than Negredo in the middle and somewhat defensively.
Piatti 5 - Just couldn't do anything and was mostly forced to defend as Monaco were all out attacking.
Danilo N/A - Did provide added energy and was invaluable in gaining minor midfield control and helping out defending.