AS Monaco overcame Nimes 4-3 in a thriller away from home, where Aleksandr Golovin’s scintillating hat-trick was crucial in propelling Les Monegasques to their seventh straight win.
Justifiably stealing the headlines courtesy of his outstanding display, the diminutive Russian emphatically vindicated Niko Kovac’s decision to hand him his first start since returning from injury.
Starting the match beautifully, Monaco quickly rushed out to a 2-0 lead as Fode Ballo-Toure, who was also given a start, fired in two assists for Golovin to clinically finish. Nimes then mounted a comeback which saw them level the scores by the 32nd minute via goals from Lucas Deaux and Zinedine Ferhat.
After making some key second half substitutions, Monaco rallied, as Golovin completed his triple with a superb free kick. Golovin wasn’t done yet, however, for he fed Kevin Volland to extend Monaco’s lead to 4-2. Niclas Eliasson then pulled one back for the Crocodiles, but Monaco survived a tense finish to claim all three points.
A relieved Niko Kovac spoke insightfully after the match, stating: “Everyone saw us winning easily, but I want you to remember that I said we were going to face a difficult team to play against. I have played a lot of matches like this, I told my players and at the press conference that no Ligue 1 team is easy to play against, especially when they are fighting for survival.”
The Croatian boss then went on to single out Golovin for his magnificent efforts. “He’s a fantastic player, I’m very happy with the victory and for him. It was his first start in a while; he’s a top player. It is true that he has an incredible quality to his shooting, but also in his passing game. He’s the man of the match, there’s no doubt about it,” he gleamed.
The win importantly extended Monaco’s lead over fifth placed Rennes to 10 points while keeping them six points behind leaders Lille.
Despite not playing anywhere near their best, Monaco proved their quality to still get the job done, which is a typical hallmark of a top side.
Up next for Les Rouge et Blanc is Ligue 2 Grenoble in the French Cup, which will offer them another opportunity to keep their positive momentum going and get some valuable minutes into some of the fringe members of the squad.