Paris Saint-Germain are through to the last-eight of the Coupe de la Ligue after a hard fought 1-0 victory against a young Saint-Etienne side. Edinson Cavani’s strike five minutes from time was enough to ensure qualification for the holders.
For all the possession we had, chances were few and far between. Zlatan Ibrahimovic rattled the woodwork in the first-half and we had a couple of sights on goal, but not much else to shout about. You have to give enormous credit to Christophe Galtier and his team. Les Verts were resolute through out and looked on course to take the tie to extra-time. For the inexperience in their ranks against what was a strong PSG team (including the likes of Ibra, Lucas Moura, Ezequiel Lavezzi), they were terrific.
Salvatore Sirigu made only his second appearance for the club and the reception he received from the Paris support told the story. Each touch was greeted with cheers and applause. After the game the Italian told reporters that he felt a little ‘embarrassed’ by the support. He was certainly taken aback by the reception but whether or not that was his last appearance in a PSG shirt, we will need to wait and see.
His compatriot Marco Verratti made a first start since the injury he sustained in Madrid last month. No signs of rustiness from the number 6 as he dictated the midfield. As quoted by the club’s official site, he told reporters after the game; “I’m not yet 100%, but this match will help me get back to my best. The best thing about the quarter-final draw is the fact that we’re playing at home, because we are better when we play at the Parc. It’s not easy for our rivals to come and play here.”
Marco was referring to the draw for the last-eight where we will face Olympique Lyonnais who we smashed 5-1 just a few days ago at the Parc des Princes.
Coupe de la Ligue Quarter-Final Draw:
Toulouse vs Olympique de Marseille Bordeaux vs Lorient Guingamp vs Lille Paris Saint-Germain vs Olympique Lyonnais
The winner came via Edinson Cavani. The Uruguayan replaced Ibrahimovic shortly after the hour mark. This is his 12th goal in all competitions and fourth in the last six outings. Angel di Maria, the assist king at the moment, was the architect with a gorgeous ball into the area for the number nine to swipe home first time past Jessy Moulin.
The newly crowned French Coach of the Year by France Football, Laurent Blanc, said afterwards; “It was a real Cup match, against a team that were here to defend and hurt us on the counter. We stayed focused and disciplined, even if Saint-Etienne had a couple of chances. In this type of match, if you don’t score early, it can quickly become very complicated. That’s what happened tonight, but we always believed in ourselves. Well done to the players. Lyon in the quarter-finals will be another good match against a Lyon team that we know very well.”
Incidentally, that was LB’s 100th victory as Parisian coach.