In glorious winter sunshine and with the temperature nudging 20 degrees, Nîmes had the upper hand in the early stages of this game. As early as the 2nd minute, Hsissance fired in an effort on the stretch that flew just over Stekelenburg's goal. Well organised and dominant, the Crocodiles were looking the more threatening of the two teams and set the tempo in the first quarter-hour.
Silva gets the first goal of 2015
AS Monaco gradually eased their way into the game, seeing more of the ball and attempting to find a way through the well-marshalled Nîmes defence. And the breakthrough duly came on 33 minutes, as the visitors stepped things up a gear. Picking up a superb ball from Carvalho, Bernardo Silva showed impeccable control in the area and slid the ball through Gallon's legs to give AS Monaco the lead. Minutes later, Fabinho tried his luck from 30 yards, but his powerful effort rocketed inches over Gallon's crossbar. The Monegasques were then able to see out the remainder of the first half fairly comfortably.
Stekelenburg earns his crust
The opening period of the second-half saw a resurgent Nîmes carve out a number of opportunities. On 55 minutes, Briançon drove in a long-range shot. Fortunately for the visitors, Stekelenburg was alert and held onto the ball at the second attempt. Briançon then drew another top-drawer save from the Dutch 'keeper a few minutes later, with a stinging 25-yard strike. In between, Lucas Ocampos got his head to an excellent Silva cross, but Gallon did well to turn the ball behind for a corner.
Kurzawa returns, Germain scores
There was then a quiet period, with Nîmes looking short of ideas about how to find a way back into the match while AS Monaco preserved their lead intelligently, forcing their opponents to chase shadows. In the 81st minute, Layvin Kurzawa made his return to competitive action after several weeks on the sidelines with injury. And the France international waste no time in making his mark. On 86 minutes, he sent Ferreira Carrasco clear behind the Nîmes defence. The Belgian nimbly rounded Gallon, but was forced too wide for the shot. He opted to roll the ball back to the onrushing Kurzawa, but a bobble caused him to miscontrol and the chance was lost. But on 94 minutes, Layvin did make a crucial contribution, finding Germain in the area with a fine pass. The Monegasque forward found himself one-on-one with Gallon and calmly slotted home to seal the Red & Whites' first win of the new year, and a place in the round of 32 of the Coupe de France. They will find out their next opponents on Monday evening, and the next round will be played on Tuesday 20 and Wednesday 21 January 2015.