Sunday, February 25, 2018

Monaco 2-2 Nice: Falcao leaves it late as Monaco snatch an undeserved point

Benjamin Darvill in Editorial, Ligue 1 16 Jan 2018

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Monaco hosted Nice on Tuesday evening as the hectic schedule in France showed no signs of abating. The chilly conditions were eventually warmed up by a superb comeback from the away side. However, it was Monaco that scored first via a very controversial finish from Adama Diakhaby, who was assisted by his own hand.

Mario Balotelli then came up with two second-half goals as he continued his revival by haunting Monaco on their own turf. Monaco saw more of the ball following the goal but struggled to carve out any meaningful chances. Indeed, it took them until the 91st minute to have a real chance as a corner bobbled around the box. However, in true-Monaco style, the hosts found an equaliser as they took a quick free-kick which Radamel Falcao poked home following a save from Walter Benitez.

A bright opening for the two teams

The average fan would have been forgiven for assuming that the match would start as a cagey affair with Nice looking to stay compact against a Monaco side that are in outstanding scoring form at home. However, the away side looked to take on their opponents in the first 25 minutes which seemed to allude to this one being an entertaining game.

The hosts started off the better as they managed to win a number of corners that were ultimately wasted. Djibril Sidibe won a free-kick after some good work on the wing but, once again, the set-piece was wasted.Patrick Burner then gave the home side a problem as he surged down the right, winning a corner which was headed over by Dante before Mario Balotelli was then cynically fouled by Kamil Glik to give Nice a free-kick in a decent area but, in keeping with the wasteful opening to the game, it was blazed over.

Despite the lack of a goal in the opening 25 minutes, it was an entertaining period in the match which displayed that Nice were not there to roll over and be beaten.

Diakhaby opens the scoring in controversial fashion

After Nice’s quick start they would have been hoping to make it to half-time with the score at least equal or perhaps even better. Monaco did not look like the free-scoring team they have been this season, and they rarely threatened in the first-half. It meant that it would either be Nice that opened the scoring, or it would take something out of the ordinary for the hosts to go ahead, and that is exactly what transpired.

Thomas Lemar floated a ball into the box for his teammates to attack as Adama Diakhaby ran forward. At first glance, he seemed intent on leaving the ball for his teammate as he held his hands in the air in a very unnatural position. The cross struck Diakhaby’s hand and dribbled down in front of him and, astounded by his good fortune, he smashed home the loose ball to give Monaco a largely undeserved lead.

Alassane Plea and Wylan Cyprien were both booked for their protests as the ball had clearly hit the hand of the scorer, which should have resulted in a free-kick to the away side. However, none of the match officials saw the blatant handball, and the goal stood, with Monaco one up, and Nice cursing their bad luck.

Mario Balotelli pokes home the equaliser

Nice’s retribution came with their first attack of the second-half. Mario Balotelli, the former-Manchester City player, was able to profit from a pinpoint cross from the right-hand side from Allan Saint-Maximin as he poked home past the despairing dive of Danijel Subasic, giving Nice no more than they deserved.

With the benefit of the replay, it seemed as though Balotelli had pulled centre-back Kamil Glik back, but the defender was simply not strong enough as he the striker easily outmuscled him, with Glik caught flat-footed for the goal. Whatever was said at half-time clearly worked as Nice combined their frustrations at going behind in controversial fashion and the fact they were the better team to get back on level terms.

Balotelli’s goal was his 11th in 15 league appearances and his 16th in all competitions. The Italian is clearly enjoying something of a renaissance in his career following a few years in which he has struggled for goals and consistency. Perhaps his move to France will see him rise back to prominence, with the forward helping Nice to reach new heights in the league.

Balotelli scores again to give Nice the lead they deserved

What a moment it was, and how Nice deserved it. After the controversy of the opening goal, the visitors went looking for the justice they deserved and how they got it. First, Balotelli was on hand to net the opener before he repeated the trick and put his side ahead. Balotelli jinked in and out as he danced around the floundering Andrea Raggi before he fired his shot home. Admittedly, the goal took a big deflection to leave Subasic stranded, but few would have bet against Balotelli from that range.

While Nice deserved to be ahead, it would also be true to state the fact that Monaco deserved to be behind. The home side were awful as they failed to ever really get going. Bar the goal that should not have stood, they did not threaten. Corners and free-kicks were the only times they ever really got forward, but these chances were wasted, with Monaco looking like they would fail to find an equaliser.

Monaco leave it late

What drama the fans that had stayed in the stadium until the end witnessed. Referee Francois Letexier gave a late free-kick to Monaco after Jorge went down very easily. The set-piece was taken exceptionally quickly, which allowed Stevan Jovetic to fire a shot that Walter Benitez could only parry into the path of Falcao.

The foul looked very soft and it ended up costing Nice two points as their hosts struck very late. The draw was something that the home side barely deserved as they toiled throughout the match as they were outplayed by the visitors. Nice’s player were visibly disappointed by the stalemate as they had battled for so long to win the match and, indeed, they deserved all three points.

Monaco: Subasic 6 – Sidibe 6, Glik 5, Raggi 5, Jorge 5 – Moutinho 6, N’Doram 6 (Ghezzal 5) – Diakhaby 6 (Jovetic 5), Lemar 5, Balde 4 (Lopes 5) – Falcao 5.

Unused subs: Benaglio, Tielemans, Boschilia, Toure.

Nice: Benitez 6 – Burner 6, Marlon 6, Dante 6, Le Marchand 6 (Sarr 6) – Lees-Melous 6, Cyprien 7, Seri 6 – Saint-Maximin 7, Balotelli 8.5 (Srarfi 5) Plea 6.

Unused subs: Coly, Walter, Makengo, Ganago, Clementia.

Referee: Francois Letexier.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Benjamin Darvill


Ben is an English and creative writing graduate that is now working his way up in the world of sports journalism. Having been writing for the last four years, Ben has written for a number of websites specialising in sport, with football a particular passion. He is a long-suffering England fan and eternal optimist when it comes to the Three Lions.

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