Saint-Etienne had Denis Bouanga and Mahdi Camara to thank for the 2-1 win over D4 side Epinal that sent them through to a semi-final at home to holders Rennes, while OL and PSG will face off once again in the other semi…
A Saint-Etienne side missing attacking assets including Wahbi Khazri, Romain Hamouma and Ryad Boudebouz turned in a staunch - and clinical - performance to win past feisty LOSC-killing amateurs Epinal and into the Coupe de France semis.
Puel: 'Break our negative spiral in the league'
"The most important thing is to get through this round. We knew where we stood. Épinal had put in a great performance against Lille in the previous round and they came back tonight with a lot of commitment and players who have assets and caused us problems," said Sainté boss Claude Puel. "It was a real cup match, very committed, with a lot of tough challenges and self-sacrifice on both sides."
Encouraging, yes, but with defeats in seven of their last eight Ligue 1 Conforama outings and a raft of big-name injuries, does Puel have the man-power to turn things around in the league?
"A lot of players were playing their first minutes in a while so it wasn't easy, and I'm taking something positive from that," explained the ASSE boss, whose side will be looking to increase their four-point lead over the drop zone when they travel to Brest in Round 25. "Now we have to break our negative spiral in the championship. We are in trouble but everyone is pulling together to get us out of this mess."
At any rate, Puel has time to prepare for the semi-final clash with holders Rennes on 3 or 4 March (with the final to be played on 25 April), while OL and PSG get ready for a pre-make of the last-ever Coupe de la Ligue BKT final that they will dispute exactly a month later at the Stade de France.
The Coupe de France semi, to be played in Lyon, will be the third time the two sides have faced this season, with the capital club having already stitched up a league double over Les Gones - 1-0 at Groupama Stadium and 4-2 at the Parc des Princes in Round 24.