Thomas Lemar continued to pour petrol onto the fire of Premier League clubs lusting for his signature as he helped Monaco into the semi-final of the French Cup.
The Monaco winger needed just three minutes to make his mark on their 2-1 victory at Ligue 1 local rivals Nice on Tuesday night, but it was team-mate Adama Diakhaby who netted the first-half winner.
Both sides were missing their top scorers: Mario Balotelli for Nice and Radamel Falcao for Monaco, but Diakhaby was on hand to volley in the winner.
Keita Balde, who assisted both goals, first set up Lemar for a close-range header as Monaco took the lead in the third minute. The impressive then Lemar had a goal disallowed for offside 10 minutes later.
Striker Alassane Plea equalised for Nice in the 18th, coolly drilling the ball into the bottom corner after turning defender Jemerson inside the penalty area.
Monaco regained the lead in the 37th, again catching Nice out down the right flank. Balde again used his pace to find space and whipped over a cross which strike partner Diakhaby met with an assured half-volley near the penalty spot.
Monaco lost last year’s League Cup final to Paris Saint-Germain, who put six past Rennes on Sunday night, which is at Amiens on Wednesday.
In Wednesday’s other quarter-finals, Rennes faces Toulouse, and Angers hosts Montpellier.
While Lemar’s goal proved to be a crucial one for Monaco, the club have admitted it will be tough to keep hold of their French star.
Both Liverpool and Arsenal have registered interest in the winger – with Liverpool’s loss of Philippe Coutinho and the imminent departure of Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal – but will set them back in excess of £74million.
Originally published at Daily Mail