Di María, Cavani propel PSG to glory
By A. Scott
Ángel Di María scored one goal and set up two more as Paris Saint-Germain won the Coupe de la Ligue for a record fourth year running, thumping AS Monaco 4-1 in a thrilling final.
AS Monaco 1 - 4 Paris Saint-Germain
The two standout teams of the French season so far met at the Parc OL in Lyon in the first Coupe de la Ligue final to be staged away from the Paris region. In its new surroundings, it was a memorable final as Paris kept alive their hopes of a third consecutive clean sweep of the domestic honours and denied Monaco a first trophy in 14 years.
PSG, with Thiago Motta and Adrien Rabiot both starting and neither Blaise Matuidi nor Javier Pastore in their line-up, set the tone as they took the lead inside four minutes. A Marco Verratti pass beat the Monaco offside trap and found Di María. He could have shot but, with the principality club's defence struggling to get back, chose instead to square for Julian Draxler to slot in.
It was a dream start for Unai Emery's side and they were certainly the better team in the opening exchanges, but Monaco fought back to equalise in the 27th minute with a sublime goal. Bernardo Silva's clever pass found Djibril Sidibé - who shook off a rib injury to start - and he cut the ball back for Thomas Lemar to control and lash in a stunning strike from the edge of the area.
Leonardo Jardim's side were briefly galvanised but only a brilliant double save by Danijel Subasic to deny Edinson Cavani - firstly from the Uruguayan's outrageous back-heel flick - kept them level. In any case PSG were back in front a minute from half-time as the Monaco offside trap was beaten again, Serge Aurier and Draxler combining to set up Di Maríá, who took a touch and poked home from inside the box.
Monaco's hopes of turning things around in the second half were dealt a huge blow when Cavani scored his 39th goal of the season in stunning fashion nine minutes after the restart, volleying home first-time from Verratti's floated ball with the outside of his right foot.
Di María had played a part in that goal too with an interception on the edge of the box as he terrorised the Monaco defence all evening. He set up Cavani for a chance that the former Napoli man somehow missed at the back post on the hour mark. However, Cavani grabbed his 40th goal of the season in the last minute, firing home after Di María had outpaced Nabil Dirar and cut the ball back from the left.
THE PLAYER: Ángel Di María
Scorer of the winner in last season's final against LOSC, Di María was irresistible here, just four days after playing for Argentina in their World Cup qualifying defeat in the gruelling conditions at altitude in Bolivia. He scored one goal, set up two more and played a part in the other in PSG's resounding win.
THE STAT: 4
An unprecedented fourth consecutive Coupe de la Ligue triumph for PSG, while Monaco missed out on a first trophy since 2003.