Lars Bender went closest to breaking the deadlock in the first half, striking the bar with a powerful effort from ten yards, but Lucas Ocampos’ second-half effort was enough to seal the win for the Ligue 1 side, who were on the back foot for the majority of the contest at the BayArena.
Bender strikes the bar
Following FC Zenit’s 1-0 victory over SL Benfica earlier in the day, die Werkself went into the match knowing that their place in the last 16 was secured - and that a point would guarantee them top spot in Group C of Europe’s premier club competition. Hakan Calhanoglu fired an early warning shot into the arms of Monaco keeper Danijel Subasic after two minutes, before Gonzalo Castro followed suit with another speculative effort from range.
The hosts continued to dominate and Bender rattled the woodwork with a sweetly-struck volley from inside the penalty area as the half-hour mark approached. Monaco, meanwhile, were struggling to make inroads into the Leverkusen half. Indeed, the visitors failed to register a single shot on Bernd Leno’s goal during the opening 45 minutes, former Bayer striker Dimitar Berbatov firing their only effort wide of the mark.
The same pattern of play resumed at the start of the second half, but only half-chances were forthcoming for Bayer, who replaced Heung-Min Son with Switzerland international striker Josip Drmic with an hour on the clock in an attempt to add some much-needed firepower. Within minutes of entering the fray, the former 1. FC Nürnberg man spurned a glorious chance to put Roger Schmidt’s charges a goal to the good, firing a yard wide of Subasic’s goal when he should at least have hit the target.
Then, completely against the run of play, Schmidt’s side were dealt a sucker punch. Dirar’s curling delivery from the right-hand side was met by the foot of substitute Ocampos, who prodded the ball past Leno from five yards to give Monaco an unlikely lead. Drmic went close to levelling matters late on with a fine solo effort, but the visitors held on to claim all three points and leave Leverkusen needing a win at Benfica on Matchday 6 to guarantee first place in the group.
Leverkusen: Leno - Spahic, Wendell, Toprak, Donati - Bender (Rolfes 76'), Castro - Bellarabi (Brandt 76'), Calhanoglu, Son (Drmic 59') - Kießling
Monaco: Subasic - Abdennour, Carvalho, Raggi, Elderson - Toulalan - Moutinho, Bakayoko, Toulalan, Dirar (Fabinho 83'), Ferreira-Carrasco (Ocampos 70') - Berbatov (Traore 90')
Goals: 0-1 Ocampos (72')