Coupe de la Ligue

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Monaco keeper scores penalty winner in Coupe de la Ligue quarters

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It took 22 penalties to finally find a winner, but find a winner they did as Monaco advanced past fellow Ligue 1 side Stade Rennais in Coupe de la Ligue action.

The two sides had drawn 1-1 on goals from Monaco’s Rony Lopes and Rennais’ Benjamin Bourigeaud, with the visitors at Stade Louis striking first on the half-hour mark and Thierry Henry’s squad equalizing nine minutes after the break.

In the penalty shootout, each side missed twice in the original five-man pod, with Belgian youngster Youri Tielemans and Swiss international Kamil Glick missing for Monaco, while former Newcastle attacker Hatem Ben Arfa and Algerian international Mehdi Zeffane failing to score for Stade Rennais.

Everyone in spots 7-10 made their penalties, before Stade Rennais goalkeeper Tomas Koubek. That left 20-year-old Monaco goalkeeper Loic Badiashile to bag the winner, which he did.

Monaco did not win a single match under Thierry Henry until November 24, but they have won two in league play since then along with Wednesday’s Coupe de la Ligue victory, moving them into the semifinals of the competition. They still remain five points from safety in the Ligue 1 table, currently 19th with 13 points on the campaign.

PSG stunned by Guingamp, out of Coupe de la Ligue

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Paris Saint-Germain was knocked out of the Coupe de la Ligue after a stunning 2-1 loss to Guingamp, marking the club’s first loss in the competition since November of 2012 when they fell in the quarterfinals to St. Etienne on penalties.

After a scoreless halftime that saw PSG fail to put any of its six shots on target, Neymar put the French giants up in the 62nd minute with a powerful far-post header. They would hold onto that lead until the 81st minute when Guingamp began its comeback.

Juan Bernat was penalized for body-checking Marcus Coco off the ball in the area, allowing Yeni N’Gbakoto to step up and convert the awarded spot-kick. With the game level and nine minutes remaining, PSG pushed for a winner, but it was the visitors who would find the answer at Parc des Princes. Thilo Kehrer was softly penalized for taking down Marcus Thuram at the top of the box, with the 22-year-old German international caught back on his heels, eventually falling over in the path of Thuram who was happy to go down as well.

Thuram – the son the highest-capped French international Lilian Thuram – stepped up and converted his penalty for the lead three minutes into stoppage time, providing Guingamp with a dramatic winner. The loss for PSG comes despite holding a whopping 76% possession throughout the match and rifling off 18 shots, with just two of those on target.

PSG had won the Coupe de la Ligue in each of the last five campaigns, marking further dominance over the French league that sits nicely alongside its five league titles over the last six seasons. Across its five straight Cup victories, PSG had scored 50 goals while conceding just 14.

Guingamp currently sits bottom of the Ligue 1 table, while PSG holds a 13-point lead over the rest of the league.

Respite for struggling Monaco with win in French League Cup

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PARIS (AP) Giulian Biancone’s goal gave Thierry Henry’s struggling Monaco side a 1-0 win over second-division side Lorient in the French League Cup on Wednesday.

Monaco is second from the bottom in the French league and desperately needed a boost after eight defeats and just two wins in 12 games since Henry took over in mid-October.

The former Arsenal star has had to deal with a huge injury crisis, forcing him to pick teenagers with little experience, including the 18-year-old Biancone.

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings ]

Biancone, who made his debut at Atletico Madrid in the Champions League last month, fired a shot inside the left post in the 70th minute to send Monaco into the quarterfinals.

Also Wednesday, Dimitri Payet and Adil Rami missed penalties as Marseille crashed out in a 4-2 shootout loss at home to Strasbourg.

Patrick Vieira’s Nice also lost on penalties at home, 3-1 to the bottom team in the French league, Guingamp.

Second-division Le Havre upset Nimes 2-1, Rennes enjoyed a 2-1 win over visiting Nantes, and Bordeaux won 1-0 at Dijon.

Paris Saint-Germain, which won the domestic treble last season, scraped through with a late goal in a 2-1 win at second division Orleans on Tuesday.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Ibrahimovic pulls another Zlatan, buries one from distance in French League Cup

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[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-vpzLf9qRY]

Welcome to 2014, where Zlatan Ibrahimovic is still ‘The Zlatan’, something he reminded Nantes goalkeeper Remy Riou five minutes into today’s Coupe de la Ligue semifinal.

That’s where Paris Saint-Germain was in action on Tuesday, with early pressure from the Parisian attackers forcing the Nantes keeper into a clearance that could only euphemistically be called ill-advised. Playing Rafa Nadal to Riou’s ‘dude who should not play tennis against Rafa Nadal’, Ibra’s return sailed 30 yards before flexing the back of the net, cruising just under the crossbar and over a spawning Riou to give PSG an unlikely opening score.

Then again, was it really that unlikely? Given some of the other feats we’ve been Zlatan perform, today’s goal was relatively easy. It’s not like this is a scorpion kick around a diving defender (against Bologna six years ago) or a 30-yard bicycle kick to cap a four-goal day (against England last year).

Given who we’re talking about, there’s nothing unlikely about it. If you’re reading, Zlatan, I’m sorry I suggested otherwise.

Nantes would go on to pull the goal back nine minutes from time, resilience that only angered Ibra. In the 90th minute, Ibrahimovic’s second goal of the day gave PSG a 2-1 lead, putting Ligue 1’s leaders into the competition’s final.

Offshore drilling, France (Coupe de la Ligue final): Marseille 1, Lyon 0

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Man of the Match: What does it say about a match when a man who played only 23 minutes takes this award? Probably not much, as it concerns the quality of the match, but Marseille forward Brandão became the different-maker when, seven minutes after coming on, he outmuscled Lyon defender Samuel Umtiti to a ball in the left of Hugo Lloris’s six-yard box. The Brazilian target man kept his left-footed shot low and, beating Lloris into the far side-netting, won Marseille’s third straight Coupe de la Ligue.

Packaged for takeaway:

  • Brandão was the change that was begging to be made. For 97 minutes, head coaches Didier Deschamps (Marseille) and Remi Garde seemed (for some unknown reason) too scared of ruining their sides’ mediocre performances. Lyon was more capable but never really tested Steve Mandanda, while Marseille was more plucky than able. One tweak from either side could have swayed the match either way. The managers decided not to rock the raft.
  • And in that way, this match was completely wasted by Garde. OL were always one, positive tweak away from breaking the game open. But Garde never made that tweak, and with only a very organized Marseille line (continuously drawing crucial offside calls) keeping OM in the match, the Lyon boss mistakenly waited for his opponent to capitulate. Against a team that hadn’t won in two months, you would have thought he’d have taken some initiative.
  • After 105 minutes, Alexandre Lacazette finally came on for Kim Kallstrom. Garde needed to make that move a half-hour earlier. Instead, Lyon waited until they were down to put on their bench’s best attacking option.
  • Though it’s only his first season with the club, it’s very difficult to look at a match like this and think Remi Garde is the right man for Lyon. He sits fourth in league (with top two talent), was seen out of Europe by Cypriot cinderella APOEL, and let the league cup slip through his fingers. A Coupe de France final against third division Quevilly gives Lyon one more route to silverware, but after seeing Garde allow Deschamps 97 minutes to win this match, you can’t help but ask questions.
  • For that reason, Deschamps should be seen as lucky rather than good. With his team consistently able to get behind Anthony Réveillère on Lyon’s right, he needed one of Brandão or André-Pierre Gignac on the field to work in the penalty area. That the match was so tight and looked like it could be decided on a set piece was even more reason to make that tweak. Instead, Deschamps waited for extra time, when a ball from Marseille’s left led to the goal.
  • The win was Marseille’s first since Feb.22, when they defeated Inter Milan 1-0 in the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 matchup. Though they sit ninth in Ligue 1, the  trophy earns them  spot in next year’s Europa League.
  • As for Lyon, they have an easy Ligue run-in, one which could allow them to pass Lille for France’s final Champions League spot. They’ll need to bounce back from today’s result, something which may not be that difficult. They’re unlikely to be as frustrated by this performance as we were.