Henry’s Monaco reach League Cup semis after marathon shootout

PARIS (AFP) – Monaco goalkeeper Loic Badiashile scored the winning penalty as Thierry Henry’s struggling side edged a marathon shootout against Rennes to reach the French League Cup semi-finals on Wednesday night.

The principality club, runners-up in the past two seasons, salvaged a 1-1 draw after normal time thanks to Rony Lopes’ second-half equaliser, before Badiashile’s heroics as he also saved three spot-kicks.

Henry’s young team are floundering in Ligue 1, sitting second-bottom and five points from safety, but managed to keep their coach’s hopes of a first trophy alive at the Stade Louis II.

“That’s exactly how we want to play,” said the former Arsenal and France striker. “Sometimes we heard the crowd were unhappy, but we got the ball back on the ground and we played.

“Finally we reacted after conceding a goal. Before we didn’t know how to do it. This time, we did.”

Monaco coach Thierry Henry instructs his team during the match against Rennes. – AFP

Monaco were the better side for the majority of an uneventful first half, with Moussa Sylla twice going close, but went into the break a goal down after Benjamin Bourigeaud swept Rennes ahead on the half-hour mark after a clever pass from Hatem Ben Arfa.

Henry was grateful to have Lopes back in the starting line-up for the first time since September 2 after a thigh injury, and the Portuguese forward tapped in Julien Serrano’s low cross to level in the 54th minute.

The 23-year-old scored 17 goals in a breakthrough campaign last season and will be pivotal to Monaco’s hopes of climbing up the Ligue 1 table.

Polish centre-back Kamil Glik came close to winning the tie for the hosts in the 85th minute, but headed narrowly over the crossbar.

Both teams had two penalties saved in the regular shootout, including a dreadful ‘Panenka’ penalty straight at home goalkeeper Badiashile from Ben Arfa.