PSG beats Lille to retain French League Cup

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Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian midfielder Javier Pastore (right) vies with Lille’s French midfielder Sofiane Boufal during the French League Cup final football match Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) vs Lille (LOSC) on Sunday at the Stade de France stadium in Saint-Denis, north of Paris.  AFP PHOTO

Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian midfielder Javier Pastore (right) vies with Lille’s French midfielder Sofiane Boufal during the French League Cup final football match Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) vs Lille (LOSC) on Sunday at the Stade de France stadium in Saint-Denis, north of Paris. AFP PHOTO

PARIS: Tenman Paris Saint-Germain beat Lille 2-1 in the French League Cup finals at the Stade de France on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) to remain on course for a domestic clean sweep of titles.

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The Ligue 1 champions took the lead five minutes before halftime in contentious circumstances, with Javier Pastore’s shot passing through the legs of an offside Layvin Kurzawa on its way into the net.

But Lille hit back shortly after the restart when Djibril Sidibe fired a free kick through the wall and into the net.

The capital city side were dealt a huge blow when Adrien Rabiot was shown a second yellow card for a cynical foul on the impressive Sofiane Boufal with 20 minutes remaining.

But a moment of madness from Lille goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama allowed Angel Di Maria to roll in the winner with 16 minutes to play for his 15th goal of the season.

Laurent Blanc’s men now have three trophies this term with a French Cup final against Marseille to come, as they look to ease the pain of their Champions League quarterfinals defeat to Manchester City.

“My players, even at 10 against 11, wanted to win that game,” coach Blanc told television channel France 2, after his team won the final for the third year in a row.

“We have a season to finish in the league and the French Cup on May 21, when we can end on a good note.

“Now we have already won the League Cup, I hope my players will be focused and motivated for the French Cup.”

PSG thrashed Bastia 4-0 12 months ago to seal a record fifth League Cup title, while Lille were playing in the final of the competition for the first time.

“It’s very hard, we are very disappointed,” said Lille winger Boufal.

“We must congratulate Paris, even with ten, they proved they are a great team. We were beaten by the stronger side.”

Blanc opted to play Lucas Moura alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Di Maria up front, leaving Edinson Cavani on the bench, while the returning Marco Verratti was named among the substitutes.

PSG should have taken the lead just 21 seconds in, but after being set up by Ibrahimovic, Di Maria drilled his shot from only 10 yards out straight at Enyeama, who made an excellent save.

Lille, who came into this match on a six-game winning streak, grew into the contest and PSG goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu had to be alert to prevent Marquinhos from putting through his own net after Mounir Obbadi’s pass caused panic in the defense.

Mad day for Enyeama
The holders though broke the deadlock when a corner was only cleared as far as Pastore.

The Argentine’s scuffed volley took a wicked deflection to beat Enyeama, whose furious appeals that Kurzawa was interfering with play from an offside position were waved away.

Enyeama had to be dragged away from the officials at the interval, but Lille channelled their frustrations perfectly by leveling in the 49th minute.

Sirigu, who has only been first-choice keeper in the cup competitions in his final campaign in France, was left apoplectic at his defenders after full-back Sidibe grabbed his sixth goal of the season with a low free-kick that split the wall in two.

Things went from bad to worse for PSG when they were reduced to ten men after Rabiot hacked down the marauding Boufal.

The deciding goal was one of the most bizarre of the season, and Nigerian keeper Enyeama was at fault.

A long clearance from Sirigu was nodded through for Di Maria by Lille’s Adama Soumaoro, but despite having defenders covering, Enyeama raced 30 yards out of his goal to give the PSG forward the simple task of knocking the ball past him and into a gaping net.

Frederic Antonetti’s Lille had chances to equalise, with Soumaoro heading wide from a free-kick and Obbadi seeing his volley bounce agonisingly past the post, but PSG held on.

AFP

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