The Stade Louis II was bathed in glorious sunshine as the south coast derby kicked off, but the fans had barely had time to settle into their seats when Fabinho gave away a free kick just outside the area. Eduardo stepped up to curl the resulting free kick past Subasic. There were just seven minutes on the clock, and Nice were in front with their first effort of the afternoon. Forced to chase the game, the Red & Whites worked a decent opening in the 13 minutes, but Raggi's header from Silva's free kick was off target. Seconds later, the home side came close to a leveller from the first corner of the game, but the Nice defence scrambled Kurzawa's strike off the line (15 mins).
Lacking a cutting edge
AS Monaco were seeing plenty of the ball but struggling to do anything meaningful with their possession, and it took a fine intervention from Raggi to prevent Eduardo doubling Nice's lead in the 19th minute. After the opening twenty minutes, the tempo dropped a couple of notches and goalmouth action was at a premium. The spectators had to wait until the dying minutes of the first half to see AS Monaco mount a real assault on Hassen's goal, with Moutinho's volley (42 mins) and a cross from Kurzawa that Silva was unable to make a proper contact with. The teams went in at the break with OGC Nice leading a Monaco side that looked a little jaded in their fifth match in a fortnight.
Running on empty...
That impression was confirmed in the second half. With seemingly little left in the tank and faced with the massed ranks of a well-drilled Nice defence, the home side huffed and puffed but failed to trouble their opponents. Kurzawa did try his luck with a volley that was blocked in the 53rd minute, but it was Nice who enjoyed the better chances, as Bauthéac was just unable to reach a teasing cross from Eduardo (55 mins), who himself missed the target with a header from a corner two minutes later. Bauthéac was back in the thick of the action in the 65th and 66th minutes, sending a chip over the bar and firing in a daisy-cutter that Subasic stopped on his line.
Stonewall penalty refused, legitimate goal ruled out
After weathering that storm, Monaco went back on the attack in an effort to get something from the game, but the outcome was ultimately decided by two controversial decisions. On 73 minutes, Amavi clearly tripped Berbatov in the penalty area. Having been booked for a dive in the first half, the Bulgarian was this time justified in his claims for a spot kick, but the referee waved play on. To add insult to injury, he was then inexplicably penalised for offside as he laid on a pass for Ferreira Carrasco. The Belgian finished superbly, but the goal was chalked off! The injustice was hard to stomach for a tiring home side and an equaliser proved to be beyond them. So the derby spoils go to Nice, while for Monaco thoughts now turn to the UEFA Champions League and the tricky trip to St Petersburg on Wednesday.