MONACO (AFP) – Goals by Aymen Abdennour and Fabinho secured Monaco a 2-0 win over Zenit St Petersburg and a place in the knockout stages of the Champions League for the first time since 2004 on Tuesday.
The French side – who scored just four goals in the six group games – also finished top of Group C as Bayer Leverkusen drew 0-0 away to Benfica, who finished bottom of the group with Zenit left with the consolation of a Europa League spot.
Monaco’s Portuguese coach Leonardo Jardim was happy to have proved people wrong in thinking his side would struggle.
His compatriot, Zenit coach Andre Villas-Boas, said Monaco’s defending had been first-rate and that his side had found it difficult to break down a team who put virtually all their players behind the ball.
However, the former Porto, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea coach said he did not wish to comment on rumours linking him to Liverpool, who will also be in the Europa League draw.
The opening 15 minutes were a cagey affair although Zenit did manage to work one promising chance, but Jose Rondon’s shot from inside the area was blocked by Brazilian Under-21 international defender Wallace.
Monaco were doing the job in terms of keeping Zenit at bay and only occasionally went on the counter-attack, their best one being a determined run from Jeremy Toulalan, whose shot after cutting inside from the right flashed just wide of the near post.