‘Shocked’ Kovac starts Monaco reign with Reims comeback draw


Monaco (AFP) – Monaco coach Niko Kovac said he was shocked after his side conceded two early goals before drawing 2-2 with Reims on Sunday in his first game in charge on the opening weekend of the Ligue 1 season.

Kovac, who left Bayern Munich in November, was appointed by the 2017 French champions to replace the sacked Robert Moreno in July.

Centre-backs Axel Disasi and Benoit Badiashile scored either side of the break to claim a point for Kovac at their Stade Louis II home after goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte was beaten twice within the opening 21 minutes.

“I was surprised and shocked at the start of the match: after two shots we conceded two goals. But the reaction was very good,” Kovac said.

“We’ll be happy with this point. It’s a good start. We made mistakes at the start of the match but we showed really good physical form and a lot of desire in the last 70 minutes,” he added.

Reims, who played in the first ever European Cup final, will play in the second qualifying round of the Europa League next month, as they return to continental competition for the first time since 1963.

Boulaye Dia opened the scoring for the visitors from the Champagne region after five minutes as teenager El Bilal Toure won an aerial battle with Disasi upfield.

After 21 minutes, 18-year-old Toure curled an effort into the bottom corner from outside the box after a Disasi and his centre-back partner Badiashile failed to clear.

Disasi, who joined Monaco from Reims earlier in August, halved the deficit in first half injury time.

Badiashile levelled 10 minutes into the second half poking in from the back post after a Aleksandr Golovin free-kick.

Kovac sent on French youth internationals Willem Geubbels and Sofiane Diop but the pair failed to threaten travelling goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic.

Aurelien Tchouameni almost claimed all three points for Kovac’s side but his additional time header glanced past Rajkovic’s post.

On Friday, Bordeaux drew 0-0 at home against Nantes in a match which replaced Saint-Etienne’s trip to Marseille which was postponed due to coronavirus spike in Andre Vilas-Boas’ squad.

On Saturday, Rennes, who will take part in the Champions League for the first time, drew 1-1 with Lille.

Champions League finalists and French title holders Paris Saint-Germain as well as semi-finalists Lyon have had their matches for the weekend delayed due to their European exploits.

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