PSG make League Cup history
Pauleta (pictured) scored the opening goal as PSG clinched a dramatic injury-time victory over Lens to become the only club to ever win the Coupe de la Ligue three times.
Stade de France (Paris)
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Pauleta 19, Mendy (pen) 94
>> Match Stats
PSG: Landreau; Ceara, Camara, Sakho, Armand; Chantome (Mendy 68), Bourillon, Clement, Rothen; Diane, Pauleta (Luyindula 66)
Lens: Le Crom; Laurenti, Coulibaly, Hilton, Belhadj; Carriere, Mangane, Kovacevic, Monnet-Paquet (Aruna 68); Remy (Monterrubio 12), Maoulida (Demont 84)
PSG scored a dramatic last-gasp penalty winner to earn a thrilling 2-1 victory over Lens in a remarkable Coupe de la Ligue final.
Substitute Bernard Mendy scored the historic goal on a fabulous night of action when he rolled the ball home from the spot in the 94th minute after Lens captain Hilton had hauled down substitute striker Peguy Luyindula in the box.
PSG's normal penalty-taker is Jerome Rothen but Mendy took responsibility in the heat of the moment and coolly placed his shot into one of the bottom corners as Lens goalkeeper Ronan Le Crom found himself rooted to the spot.
The winning goal means Paul Le Guen has claimed his first trophy as PSG manager, 14 months after taking over in the capital. Now PSG will turn their attentions to staying in Ligue 1 - and with the club still in the French Cup quarter-finals, it could yet end up being a memorable season for the Parisian giants.
In front of 80,000 fans at a noisy and colourful Stade de France, Le Guen's side went ahead in the first-half thanks to a brilliant finish from Pauleta. The veteran Portuguese striker deftly lobbed the ball over Le Crom in the 19th minute and watched the ball hit the post before crossing the line. It was the 34-year-old's sixth goal in the competition and confirmed his status as the Coupe de la Ligue's leading scorer this season.
But Lens fought back brilliantly after the break and will feel desperately unlucky to have lost. They more than matched their opponents over the 90 minutes and equalised on 53 minutes through a cool Eric Carriere finish after the midfielder got ahead of the strikers and collected a neat pass from Toifilou Maoulida following a good burst forward by Kevin Monnet-Paquet. Then substitute Olivier Monterrubio provided one of the greatest moments of the night and nearly won the game for Jean-Pierre Papin's side when he unleashed a fantastic 25-yard volley but watched the shot come back off the inside of the post as PSG goalkeeper Mickael Landreau was left helpless.
The Sang et Or were not totally outplayed in the first-half, either. Monnet Paquet's pace down the left was a constant threat for Lens and he set up Maoulida for a couple of chances that the marksman missed. The former Marseille and Auxerre striker pulled his first opportunity wide of Landreau's far post but then saw his second effort, a brilliant curling shot, superbly tipped away by the PSG goalkeeper, who was outstanding all night. At the other end during the opening half Amara Diane wasted a couple of chances for PSG, shooting straight at Le Crom when through on goal and then heading wide following an excellent Rothen cross.
Having gone in a goal down Lens showed renewed belief after the restart, although Carriere missed a good chance to score when he headed straight at Landreau before redeeming himself with the equaliser. After Monterrubio's wonder strike hit the woodwork the pace dropped in the final 15 minutes, but Lens had a chance to win the game in injury time when substitute Yohan Demont broke into the box only for Landreau yet again to rescue PSG, tipping the midfielder's volley over the bar.
Just as extra-time looked inevitable, PSG scored the winner in the dying seconds of normal time. Diane, full of running all night, released Luyindula and he burst into the box only for Hilton to haul the striker down. Mendy made no mistake from the spot to earn PSG a place in the history books - they are the only club to win the Coupe de la Ligue three times - as well as a place in Europe next season, and send PSG's fans into delirious celebrations.