French Cup Shock Number 2: Monaco Out To Third Tier Side

Hot on the heels of Le Puy’s heroics on Wednesday night, FC Rouen made a little bit of history for themselves by defeating Monaco on penalties to reach the quarter-finals of the Coupe de France.

With the other seven places confirmed on Wednesday, it was left to Monaco, fifth in Ligue 1, to ease past their third-tier rivals. Rouen, who have been docked five points this season, sit ninth in the Championnat National table, French football’s third tier. They have already caused an upset, despatching last year’s winners, Toulouse, on penalties, to set up their tie with Monaco.

Monaco manager Adi Hütter fielded a strong side, including €40 million US striker Folarin Balogun, and it was he who opened the scoring on 35 minutes with a well-taken penalty. Against a team 40 places below them in the league system, Monaco were expected to ease to victory from there, but Rouen proved stubborn. In first-half injury time, Les Diables Rouges levelled through defender Clément Bassin, giving their side hope of a shock.

Monaco, who also included Aleksandr Golovin, Takumi Minamino and Youssouf Fofana in a strong side, couldn’t make their quality pay. They struggled to break down the stubborn hosts, and despite having 67% possession, they managed just three shots on target. Rouen weren’t over-awed, looking to hit Monaco on the break, and they held out for penalties with little incident.

Once you get to spot kicks, it’s a bit of a lottery, as Toulouse found out in the previous round. Rouen thought they’d blown it when Mustapha Benzia missed their fourth penalty. Monaco socred, then Rouen again, meaning Balogun just had to net his effort to send Monaco through. Instead, keeper Léonard Aggoune saved, and after both teams netted their first of sudden death, he saved again. Maghnes Akliouche missed for Monaco, and that sent a delirious Roune into the quarter-finals.

Their progression means at least one side from the top flight will be in the final four – Rouen were drawn against Ligue 2 side Valenciennes in the next round, Le Puy’s reward for their exploits is a home tie with high-flying Rennes, whilst the two all Ligue 1 matches are Paris Saint-Germain against Nice, whilst Lyon face Strasbourg.

Site Opinion

Ah, the magic of the cup! On paper, this looked like a formality, but as Le Puy did the night before, Rouen upset the form book. There were few Monaco fans there to see the game – it’s a 1300-mile round trip, but there were plenty of home fans to witness a magical night for the hosts.

The tie with Valenciennes, bottom of Ligue 2 with just two wins in the league all season, offers the minnows a route into the semi-final and a chance to truly write their name in the history books.

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