The 99th Côte d’Azur derby was nothing short of special for AS Monaco as the red and white squad took to the Allianz Riviera arena to face off against neighbouring Ligue 1 rivals Nice. Niko Kovac opted to play an identical starting line-up to the previous match, which saw Monaco blow out Bordeaux 4-0, except for the replacement of an injured Benjamin Lecomte by the recently signed goalkeeper, Vito Mannone.
Monaco seemed to take control of the ball and indeed the match right from kick off, as Wissam Ben Yedder and Kevin Volland applied pressure on the host’s goal. The Monegasque offensive continued as consecutive shots were taken but to no avail, until the 23rd minute, when Youssef Fofana found Axel Disasi inside Nice’s box with a clean corner kick. The defender rose higher than his counterparts and used his head to record his second goal of the season.
The remaining minutes of the first half saw plenty more shots from the Principality side and even some from their opponents, as Nice began taking chances on goal. However, the scoreline stood at an unchanged 0-1 to Monaco at half-time. The second half started like the first, with a quick pick up of pace. It would be Nice’s Jeff Reine-Adelaide who took the first shot since the return to play, but the striker was unable to get the ball past a well-placed Mannone. Just minutes later, a one man counter-attack saw Monaco’s Sofiane Diop intercept and then dribble towards the opposing goalkeeper, who Diop then violated as he sliced the ball between the man’s legs to make it 0-2 to the visitors at the 53rd minute.
This doubled success somewhat stunned the hosts, but only temporarily as they came back with some shove, eventually finding the back of Monaco’s net at the 69th minute. Nice’s Pierre Lees-Melou capitalised from his teammate’s blocked shot as he managed to slip the ball past Mannone after beating Disasi in defence. Thereafter, Niko Kovac played in Florentino Luis as a defensive midfielder, in a presumable attempt to maintain that well-deserved one goal lead. The substitution appeared to be fruitful as the Monegasques held up their defence and managed to try their luck on goal a few more times before the game came to a close after four minutes of extra added time. After a dominant display in the 99th Côte d’Azur derby, the red and whites walk away victorious as the score stood at 1-2 at full-time.
The strong performance of Monaco resulted in the team climbing several places up to fifth on the Ligue 1 table, just two points from second place. This was a victory of great importance for Kovac, his men and supporters as they toppled Nice to grasp three well-needed points. After a one weekend break from the game, Monaco will host Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain at the Stade Louis II. The match up will no doubt pose a challenge to the red and whites, but if their last couple of performances are anything to go by, Monaco are ready to face off against Mbappe and co.
Featured image courtesy of AS Monaco, Axel Disasi enthusiastically celebrates the first goal of the game and his second of the season