PARIS: Holders Paris Saint-Germain moved into the French League Cup finals after seeing off a stubborn Toulouse 2-0 at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila).
The away team was much improved from their 4-0 thrashing at Monaco on Sunday, but after Ezequiel Lavezzi put PSG in front the result never seemed in doubt.
Angel di Maria backed up his excellent brace against Angers on Saturday with a wonderful second goal to put paid to Toulouse hopes.
The visitors’ misery was compounded late on when substitute Martin Braithwaite had a penalty saved by Nicolas Douchez.
The capital city outfit are now just one win away from extending their record haul of five League Cups and will face Lille in the final on April 23 at the Stade de France.
“We showed an exemplary mentality and played a good match,” said PSG coach Laurent Blanc who made seven changes to his starting lineup.
“We are a composed team, the players want to win matches.”
It was a rather drab opening 45 minutes in the capital, with a speculative effort off target from PSG midfielder Benjamin Stambouli the closest either side came to breaking the deadlock.
Away manager Dominique Arribage though would have been pleased with the way his men kept their more illustrious opponents at arm’s length for long periods.
PSG though finally ended Toulouse’s resistance in the 65th minute as Lavezzi sent out a reminder of his talents with a crucial goal.
The Argentine was set clear by an excellent deep pass from Adrien Rabiot that took the visiting defence out of the equation, and he finished at the second attempt after goalkeeper Mauro Goicoechea had kept out his initial effort.
Just seven minutes later his compatriot di Maria made it two with a pin-point, swerving shot from distance that gave PSG the breathing space they needed to ease into the finals.
Braithwaite came off the bench and won an 89th minute penalty when he was brought down by Presnel Kimpembe. But the Danish striker’s weak spot-kick was well saved by stand-in goalkeeper Douchez.
Although David Luiz hobbled off injured in stoppage time, this was a thoroughly satisfactory day for the French champions.
“He hurt his knee at the end of the game. We will have to wait until Thursday to be able to be more precise, but it doesn’t look too bad,” said Blanc.
“It’s odd playing a semi-final in January but not the final until April. It’s another anomaly of the calendar but at least Luiz should be able to play!”