To face the league’s bottom side Niko Kovac decided to keep faith in the same eleven he had picked in the win over Nice (2-1) in the 100th derby, with just two changes. Fodé Ballo-Touré and Aleksandr Golovin were picked, revamping the left flank for AS Monaco. It was a fortuitous choice, as the two made the difference in this match…
A fiery match to start for Monaco
With the kick off just a few minutes gone, AS Monaco were off to a strong start. After a good bit of play between Fodé Ballo-Touré and Sofiane Diop, the left back sent a fine cross towards the far post. Aleksandr Golovin hit it beautifully with his left foot, beating Baptiste Reynet, who was left frozen on his line (0-1, 3rd). The first few minutes were going brilliantly for the Monegasques, who had opened the scoring with their first chance.
A few moments later, it was more of the same. On another cross from the left side, the number 17 Red and White hit a powerful shot just under the crossbar after a being left unmarked by the defense of Nîmes (0-2, 13th). The Principality club now had a two goal lead before the quarter-hour mark, leaving the Crocos in a difficult position. The situation could have been even more decisive if VAR had not ruled out a goal by Wissam Ben Yedder for a narrow offside (17′).
An unexpected reaction
While one could imagine the locals were feeling at loose ends, Lucas Deaux led the charge for Nîmes by reducing the score after a nice cutback from Zinédine Ferhat on the left side. The number 8 perfectly struck the ball to get the opener for the hosts (1-2, 23rd). This goal gave hope to the men of Pascal Plancque, who was making his debut on the bench for Nîmes Olympique after the dismissal of Jérôme Arpinon last Friday.
Rejuvenated, Nîmes showed more, with Renaud Ripart hitting the post. However, the ball came back to the feet of Zinédine Ferhat who coolly finished to level the score (2-2, 32nd). The Garde side were making an unexpected comeback and were also dangerous on a corner, but the Red and Whites defense was well organized. The chances came one after another on both sides; Sofiane Diop had a huge chance as well from close range but Baptiste Reynet did well to make an exceptional save from the AS Monaco youngster (41st).
A masterclass from Aleksandr Golovin
Returning from the locker room, the match was more balanced. Krépin Diatta took the place of Sofiane Diop, unhappy with his shooting before half-time. Then Cesc Fàbregas and Stevan Jovetić also made their entrances. Just after the hour mark, Aleksandr Golovin made it three at the Stade des Costières. He took on a free kick from just outside the area and scored with a curling shot that found the bottom corner against the Nîmes goalkeeper, surprised that no player had come on to the ball as it crossed the face of goal (2-3, 61st). The Tsar thus had himself a formidable hat trick, and Nîmes had made it a third match in a row in which they had conceded at least three goals.
We were slowly heading towards the end of the match when Kevin Volland could have earned a penalty after a foul in the box. But the referee, Clément Turpin, did not blow his whistle. This, however, was only a postponement of AS Monaco’s fourth goal. The Germany international was then picked out with a crossfield ball moments later by the unstoppable Aleksandr Golovin, who delivered an assist this time around. The Rouge et Blanc number 31 made the perfect run and finished the move with a fine left-footed strike (2-4, 77th). Delicious.
The match comes back to life
It was a third assist in 2021 for the Russian international, who was impressive throughout this match. Les Crocos did not give up, however despite the advantage held by Niko Kovac’s men. Ten minutes from time, Eliasson scored with a sublime free kick from 20 meters. His shot ended in the top corner of Benjamin Lecomte’s goal, who could do nothing about it (3-4, 80th). This reduction in the score would not change the result, however. The Monegasques would win at the end of a match full of twists and turns.
It was a seventh win in a row for the Principality club in 2021, which widens the gap a little more with Rennes in the standings, as AS Monaco are now ten points clear of 5th place. But there is no time to savor the result; the next match for Niko Kovac’s men is this Wednesday, in the Coupe de France against Grenoble, in the Round of 64.
Ligue 1 Uber Eats – Matchday 24
Nîmes Olympique 3-4 AS Monaco
Halftime: 2 – 2
Goals: Deaux (23′), Ferhat (32′), Eliasson (81′) for Nîmes; Golovin (3′, 13′, 62′), Volland (77′) for Monaco
Bookings: Meling (23′) for Nîmes; Ballo-Touré (4′), Badiashile (58′) for Monaco
Nîmes Olympique: Reynet © – Alakouch, Briancon, Miguel, Meling – Ferhat, Cubas (Fomba, 72′), Deaux, Benrahou (Duljevic, 87′), Ripart (Eliasson, 72′) – Kone (Roux, 66′)
Manager: Pascal Plancque
AS Monaco: Lecomte – Sidibé, Maripan, Badiashile, Ballo-Touré (Caio Henrique, 64′) – Golovin (Aguilar, 87′) , Fofana (Fàbregas, 56′), Tchouameni, Diop (Diatta, 46′) – Ben Yedder © (Jovetić, 56′), Volland
Manager: Niko Kovac