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Paris Saint-Germain snatched a new Championship-Cup hat-trick against Lyon, by winning the last edition of the Coupe de la Ligue on penalties at the Stade de France on Friday (0-0 ap, 6-5 tab), depriving the ‘Olympique Lyonnais a place for the next Europa League.
We had to wait for the penalty shootout. The Paris Saint Germain was awarded, Friday July 31, the last League Cup in history at the expense of Lyon (0-0, 6-5 t.a.b.), who misses one of his last chances to qualify for a European Cup.
Gasping goodbyes, suspense and anguish until the end, failing a show to match. Despite scorching temperatures, the absence of Kylian Mbappé and injuries, PSG managed to control their nerves on penalties to win their ninth title in the event. A record!
With less than a fortnight before its Champions League quarter-final, on August 12 against Atalanta Bergamo, Paris ends its domestic season with a Grand Slam, after winning the Champions Trophy, the Championship and the French Cup.
The minimum expected to complete the loop, 25 years after winning the first edition, and to forget a disappointing 2018/19 season, where the club had to give up the two national cups.
Unable to win a title since 2012, Lyon did not take advantage of the last official French match of the strange 2019/20 season truncated by the coronavirus pandemic, to afford a ticket to Europe.
Seventh at the time of the early termination of Ligue 1, OL had to win to avoid living their first season without a European Cup since 1997. A symbolic and financial cataclysm that President Jean-Michel Aulas will be able to avoid. .. if only his team wins the C1 in August!
Under the Mbappé eyes, present in the stands during the meeting before living the penalty session on the bench, the Parisians experienced all the difficulties to pack the meeting.
However, Neymar did everything to open the scoring from the start. After signing the first strike of the game (5e), the Brazilian number 10 was on the verge of accommodating the ball in the opposing net with an unstoppable coiled strike but out of the frame (8e). The biggest opportunity of the match.
Without “KM”, at the origin of the victorious goal in the Coupe de France last Friday before injuring himself, his trainer Thomas Tuchel chose to learn to win in a new more careful system: a 4-3-3, where Marquinhos regained the role of sentry in the middle, leaving Thiago Silva and Presnel Kimpembe to form the defensive hinge.
Despite Marco Verratti’s brilliant dribbling, this “plan B” took a long time to take its bearings against catchy Lyonnais, like their captain Memphis Depay.
The Dutchman, who should never have played this final initially scheduled for April 4, has been one of the most leggy for 80 minutes on his return to an official match since his serious injury in December.
Insufficient however to make the difference but a good omen to achieve the feat during the 8e of final return of C1 against Juventus Turin on August 7 (1-0 victory in the first leg).
A padlocked part
Faced with the neutralization of the two teams, relying only on the hope of individual exploits, it is the rule of “five changes” which animated the end of the meeting.
The entries into play of Pablo Sarabia and Ander Herrera, in place of Mauro Icardi and Idrissa Gueye (58e), then that of Thilo Kehrer at the expense of Layvin Kurzawa (69e), initially fueled the specter of new injuries.
While that of Karl Toko-Ekambi, Bertrand Traoré and Andersen (80e), then Rafael (86e), gave hope for a hero out of the bench.
Herrera believed he could put on the costume for Paris when his center found Neymar’s head … but Lopes slammed the attempt at the last moment (87e)!
In a padlocked part, where the bodies were close to breaking, the Lyon goalkeeper was flawless, delaying the deadline with a new high-class stop against Di Maria (95e).
The exclusion of Rafael and the blow of the last chance of Neymar (120e) did not avoid the inevitable: the penalty shootout. It was Navas, little worried during the game, who gained the upper hand over Lopes by pushing back Traore’s attempt. The art of shining at the best time.