Alex gives PSV upper hand
By Simon Fudge. Last Updated: January 1, 1970 1:00am
PSV Eindhoven have taken the upper hand on their UEFA Champions League opponents Monaco with a 1-0 first leg win at Philips Stadion.
Alex's early header in the first half was enough to give the Dutch side a slim lead for the second leg at Stade Louis II on March 9.
PSV came into Tuesday's match four points clear at the top of Holland's Eredivisie, having thrashed NEC Nijmegen 4-1 in their last encounter on Saturday.
Monaco, meanwhile, had been in impressive form of late, having been unbeaten in both Ligue 1 and Champions League play since November.
Winter-like conditions were the order of the evening at Philips Stadion, with snow having been cleared from the pitch before kick-off.
The first half saw Guus Hiddink's side look the more dangerous in attack, with Peruvian Jefferson Farfan and South Korean Park Ji-sung posing Monaco problems down either flank.
It was PSV that created the first real chance just four minutes in, with Farfan striking his effort over the bar from point-blank range after Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink knocked down Alex's free kick into the Monaco box.
However, the Dutch side would deservedly open the scoring four minutes later, as PSV captain Mark van Bommel's corner from the right found an unmarked Alex in the box.
The Brazilian centre back powered his downward header past the diving Monaco goalkeeper Flavio Roma to give PSV an early lead.
Farfan was causing Monaco's Brazilian defender Maicon problems in possession on the left-hand side and the Peruvian was given another sight of goal after a fine run before his shot on the edge of the box failed to test Roma.
Didier Deschamps's side struggled to create any real chances in the opening 45 minutes, with PSV's Brazilian goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes not having to block a single shot.
Mohammed Kallon, skipper Julien Rodriguez and Patrice Evra all had efforts that failed to strike the target for the Principality club.
PSV's centre back pairing of Alex and Wilfred Bouma were solid throughout the half, as the Monaco strike duo of Javier Saviola and Emmanuel Adebayor were ineffective.
Alex did particularly well to dispossess Adebayor after he intercepted Lee Young-pyo's poor back pass from the left, as PSV took their one-goal lead into the break.
The second half saw Hiddink make a curious substitution seven minutes after the break, as Farfan was replaced on the left-hand side by another speedster in American DaMarcus Beasley.
As in the first half, PSV looked more threatening in attack and Andre Ooijer should have hit the target from point-blank range after van Bommel's free kick from the left posed problems in the Monaco box.
In fact, Maicon was lucky not to have given a penalty away after he pulled Ooijer back while he tried to strike the ball goalwards.
At the other end, it took the visitors 65 minutes to force a save from Gomes, as Czech Republic international Jaroslav Plasil struck a poor left-footed shot at the Brazilian custodian.
Moments later, Saviola failed to hit the target with a left footed strike in the PSV box after Adebayor found the on-loan Barcelona hit-man with his byline pass from the left.
Hiddink's decision to introduce Beasley nearly proved a master stroke, as the former Chicago Fire winger just missed the head of Vennegoor of Hesselink with a left-footed cross into the box from the right.
The dying stages of the match saw Monaco searching for an undeserved equaliser, with Kallon heading Lucas Bernardi's ball back into the box over the bar after Gomes punched away Plasil's corner from the left.
Kallon then rolled a left-footed turn and shot across the face of the PSV goal, as the Dutch side held on for a well-deserved first leg win.
Click here for PSV Eindhoven v Monaco player ratings.
|PSV Eindhoven|| ||Monaco|
|1||Shots on target||1|
|6||Shots off target||6|
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|1||Paris St Germain||6||15|
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