Late goals take Rennes, Montpellier through
Adrien Hunou scored two late goals to take Stade Rennais FC into the Coupe de la Ligue semi-finals with a 4-2 win over Toulouse FC, while Isaac Mbenza helped Montpellier Hérault SC past Angers SCO.
Stade Rennais FC 4 - 2 Toulouse FC
Eager to bounce back from Sunday's 6-1 demolition at home to Paris Saint-Germain in the Coupe de France, Rennes went in front midway through the first half. There was more than a stroke of luck about it, as Benjamin André tried to turn in a Wahbi Khazri cutback and the ball went into the net off the unfortunate Steeve Yago (21').
Toulouse drew level when a Max-Alain Gradel pass was stroked home by Issiaga Sylla (40'), but Rennes still went into the interval in front thanks to Benjamin Bourigeaud, who was on hand to score from close range following a Khazri assist (42').
Again there was a Toulouse fightback after the restart, Giannelli Imbula - back in the side after suspension - striking the post with a terrific effort as a prelude to the equaliser in the 63rd minute. This time Christopher Jullien nodded down a free-kick and Issa Diop's diving header from close range hit the post. Yaya Sanogo was there to score from the rebound, his second goal in a Toulouse shirt after netting earlier in the competition against Clermont Foot.
But with penalties looming Hunou stepped forward. He got the break of the ball to put Rennes ahead for a third time after Kelvin Amian had blocked a Bourigeaud free-kick (86'). And he made sure of the victory in stoppage time, pouncing on slack goalkeeping to finish at the second attempt from a tight angle.
THE PLAYER: Adrien Hunou
He only came off the bench in the 82nd minute as a replacement for Yoann Gourcuff, but he made the difference with a late brace to take the Bretons through without the need for the lottery of penalties. He has three goals in the competition this season, all from the bench.
THE STAT: 47
That is the number of years that have passed since Rennes last won a major trophy, the 1971 Coupe de France. There is still hope they can end that drought this year, after they qualified for a first Cup semi-final since 2014, when they beat Angers SCO in the Coupe de France.
Angers SCO 0 - 1 Montpellier Hérault SC
Ludovic Butelle made his second debut in goal for Angers following his return to the club after a two-year spell in Belgium with Club Brugge. And the veteran goalkeeper frustrated Montpellier for long spells at the Stade Raymond Kopa.
He set the tone with a key early save to deny Jonathan Ikoné at his near post and then stopped a Paul Lasne shot from the edge of the area (21') in a first half in which the visitors were the more threatening side.
Angers did not make young Montpellier goalkeeper Dimitry Bertaud work at all, with Romain Thomas missing the target from six yards shortly before the interval. They were desperately unlucky when a Flavien Tait long-ranger crashed back off the underside of the bar (57'), but most of the chances continued to come at the other end after the break.
Butelle saved from Sio (62') before finally being undone with four minutes to go. Rubén Águilar nutmegged Pierrick Capelle on the right flank and cut into the area before delivering a low ball across the face of goal that was turned in by substitute Mbenza to take Michel Der Zakarian's men through. Their qualification was only secured, though, after Vitorino Hilton headed away an Angelo Fulgini shot in front of the line with a minute remaining.
THE PLAYER: Ludovic Butelle
The defeat was harsh on Butelle, who excelled on a busy night on his return to the Stade Raymond Kopa. A hero of the side that won promotion in 2015, coach Stéphane Moulin had already declared that Butelle would be reinstalled as his first choice in goal, and on this evidence that is a sound move.
THE STAT: 10
Montpellier are now unbeaten in 10 away games in all competitions since a 2-1 Ligue 1 Conforama defeat at Dijon FCO in August.