Monaco had the last laugh in their Champions League last 16 tie against Arsenal on Tuesday, the Ligue 1 side surviving a shaky second-leg performance to eliminate a team they felt had shown them little respect.
Monaco beat Arsenal 3-1 in London three weeks ago before losing 2-0 at Louis II, results that saw them progress to the last eight of the competition for the first time since 2004 on the away goals rule.
After the game, Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim did not offer his hand to Arsenal counterpart Arsene Wenger, the Portuguese saying the Frenchman had done the same following the first leg at the Emirates.
“I think it was disrespectful. Right now we’re celebrating and we think Arsenal did not show enough respect during the first leg,” Jardim said.
“In the first leg when I wanted to thank Arsene and shake his hand... it’s true that Arsene didn’t shake my hand.
“So, even though Monaco did everything to make life comfortable for Arsenal, I decided not to thank him.”
Monaco conceded just one goal on the way to topping Group C and qualifying for the last 16 but the club felt that Arsenal had still underestimated them when they were drawn to meet.
“Arsenal were really happy to play Monaco as we were supposed to be one of the weakest teams. We qualified from pot four,” Jardim said.
“Arsenal thought they had qualified already. I think we deserved it.”
Having lost two influential players last summer, Monaco shifted to a more cautious approach this season.
Colombian stars James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao left for Real Madrid and Manchester United respectively but Monaco instead relied on a steely defence and a bunch of hungry youngsters to remain competitive.
On Tuesday, Monaco’s back four had just 18 Champions League appearances between them but made up for their lack of experience with controlled aggression.
“We’re always focused, we’re always aggressive. We don’t give up on anything. We play at 120 per cent every game, and it always pays off,” 25-year-old Aymen Abdennour, who formed a central defensive partnership with 20-year-old Wallace, told uefa.com.
While Arsenal inexplicably conceded a late third goal at the Emirates, Monaco defended with 10 men behind the ball in a grandstand finish on Tuesday to preserve their away-goal advantage.
“We have young players in defence and some experienced players, like Carvalho, who didn’t play,” Abdennour added.
“That means we have some real heavyweights in defence.
“We’re all young, apart from (Ricardo) Carvalho. We’re a squad, and we have achieved this together.
“I hope it will continue.”
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