Keita Baldé laid on both AS Monaco goals as the principality side booked their passage to the Coupe de la Ligue semi-finals with a 2-1 win over OGC Nice.
OGC Nice 1-2 AS Monaco
Monaco’s Thomas Lemar has been attracting admiring glances from around Europe in recent weeks and months, and he took just three minutes to show why, heading home a Keita Baldé cross to make it 1-0 (3′). Ten minutes later the attacking midfielder found the target again, but this time his well-taken effort – fired under Walter Benitez – was ruled out for offside (13′). Nice beat their Côte d’Azur rivals 4-0 when the teams met in the league in September, and they battled back onto level terms inside the opening 20 minutes when Alassane Pléa raced between his markers, who were trying to play an offside trap of their own, before firing a low near-post shot beyond Benitez’s opposite number, Diego Benaglio (18′). Monaco had the better of the play, and after a pair of warning shots from Guido Carrillo (31′, 32′), Adama Diakhaby ensured they would take a lead into the interval, getting on the end of another Baldé ball in to make it 2-1 (37′).
Monaco hold on
Whatever OGCN coach Lucien Favre said to his charges at half-time seemed to spur them into action at the start of the second half, Benaglio forced to push away a Bassem Srarfi shot (46′) before seeing Pierre Lees-Melou’s effort dip narrowly over his crossbar (49′). Lees-Melou then missed a gilt-edged chance to restore parity past the hour when he squandered a Pléa cutback, missing the target from mere yards out (64′). Lees-Melou was subbed off for Wylan Cyprien soon after (68′), and Nice looked more dangerous for it, though when Srarfi had another chance to turn the tide of the game Jemerson stuck out a leg to deny the Tunisian (76′) and it ended 2-1 to Leonardo Jardim’s sid
THE PLAYER: Keita Baldé
Lemar and Diakhaby may have got Monaco’s goals, but both were made by Baldé. The Senegalese attacker was signed from Lazio this summer primarily as a centre forward, but his combination of pace, power and vision mean that whether he is played out wide or through the middle, he can prove more than a handful for opposition defences.
THE STAT: 886
It has been two years, five months and two days since Monaco last tasted victory at the Allianz Riviera, when Bernardo Silva and Layvin Kurzawa – now of Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain respectively – scored in a 2-1 win on the opening day of the 2015-16 Ligue 1 Conforama season