Paris Saint-Germain beat AS Saint-Etienne 1-0 in the Coupe de France final on Friday evening, Brazilian superstar Neymar scoring the only goal of a match blighted by a red card-inducing tackle on Kylian Mbappé.
After several months of stoppage time, the Coupe de France final between Paris Saint-Germain and AS Saint-Etienne got off to a good start. The capital club players had their first chance after 30 seconds (Kylian Mbappe was off-side), but ASSE were quick to respond.
On the left wing Denis Bouanga beat Marquinhos before seeing his angled shot cannon back off the inside of the far post. Unfortunately for Sainté, they conceded - against the run of play - the opener and eventual winner (14').
Neymar, who had been following Kylian Mbappé's shot when it was parried by Jessy Moulin, was on hand to fire a powerful shot in off the underside of the crossbar - and the Brazilian's strike ended up carrying the day.
"Yes, we won. In a final, that's the most important thing. It was complicated for several reasons. We won, but there's a lot to improve and analyse," said PSG boss Thomas Tuchel. "But it's an expensive win and it was tough despite being a man up for much of the match. It was our first competitive game in months, but we had a lot to lose. We were the big favorites, so we're satisfied with the win."
Mbappé, Kehrer injured
As Denis Bouanga continued to pose a threat (16', 21'), the tension between the two Ligue 1 Uber Eats outfits gradually increased. Thilo Kehrer, who was hit by a contact with Gabonese international Bouanga (12'), was replaced by Colin Dagba (20') after suffering a hip injury.
Then Kylian Mbappé, at top speed, was severely tackled by Sainté captain Loïc Perrin (27'). Initially shown a yellow card by referee Amaury Delerue, Perrin was sent off after consultation with VAR. Kylian Mbappé, limping and in tears, was replaced by Pablo Sarabia (31'), but returned to the sidelines on crutches to see out the match. Both players are expected to have further examinations on Saturday.
Moulin on fire
Only led by one goal, the ASSE could count on a great Jessy Moulin not to see the score worsen. In addition to his first-half saves (25', 45'+3), the keeper continued to push back the Parisian attacks after the restart (58', 59', 72', 73').
"It's hard to lose a match like that," said Moulin - set to be the club's number one 'keeper in 2020-21 following a souring of relations between coach Claude Puel and legendary glovesman Stephane Ruffier. "On one hand, you know you've done well. But, on the other hand, losing a final is so hard. Especially like that. We had chances and we pushed. That's football. You have learn from it."
Claude Puel's players were defensively resistant, but could not trouble capital club 'keeper Keylor Navas and Paris Saint-Germain duly increased their stockpile of Coupe de France titles to a record 13 - three more than any other side in the competition's history.