OL trump PSG, Montpellier stunned
By S. Willis
After inflicting a first defeat of the Ancelotti era on PSG 3-1, Lyon are through to the last four of the Coupe de France, where they will be joined by Gazelec Ajaccio, who stunned Montpellier 1-0, and Rennes, 3-1 winners over ten-man VA.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Coupe de France, quarter-finals
Paris Saint-Germain 1 - 3 Lyon
PSG had gone an incredible 17 matches - 12 under new coach Carlo Ancelotti - in all competitions since their last defeat on December 1, but their dream run came to an end as they were outgunned by a Lyon side determined to maintain their comeback after a demoralising Champions League elimination at the hands of APOEL Nicosia two weeks ago.
In a thrilling match of end-to-end football that picked up where the dramatic 4-4 league draw between the sides in Week 25 left off, PSG drew first blood in front of their own fans at the Parc des Princes as Nene converted from the spot after Samuel Umtiti had been adjudged to have handled the ball in the area (12', pen).
Källström curler sparks fightback
Rémi Garde's side hit back through arguably their most dependable player, the Swede Kim Källström, who curled a magnificent dipping free kick past Nicolas Douchez (25') before Lisandro Lopez tapped in at the far post to hand OL the lead (39').
Despite dominating possession in the second half, and despite the introduction of star playmaker Javier Pastore, PSG couldn't find a way to level the scores and the in-form Bafétimbi Gomis made sure of Lyon's place in the semis with an injury-time penalty (90'+2).
While the qualification is exactly the balm that Lyon needed for the Champions League woes, for Carlo Ancelotti, his first loss as PSG coach is a particularly savage one as it entails missing out on a title of which the club's big-spending - and commensurately ambitious - Qatari owners had made an objective for the season.
Gazelec Ajaccio 1 - 0 Montpellier
Despite never having been past the last-32 stage of the Coupe de France before, Gazelec Ajaccio played fearlessly against an uncharacteristically timid and poorly organised Montpellier side to book a place in the semi-finals thanks to Yohan Bocognano's 75th-minute winner.
Fresh from their first defeat in all competitions since the beginning if the year - 1-0 in Nancy - Montpellier picked up where they left off at the weekend and as the minutes ticked by, Gazelec grew in confidence. Making light of Montpellier's domination of possession, the Corsicans hit the higher-rated visitors - whose best chance was the unusually quiet Olivier Giroud's woodwork-rattling header in the 85th minute - mercilessly on the counter. To great effect.
Steady the ship
Gazelec now join fellow National side Quevilly in the last four of the Coupe de France, while Montpellier turn their attentions back to the league, where impending fixtures against direct rivals Saint-Etienne and then Marseille will pose serious tests as René Girard's men look to bounce back and secure a European place through a top-five finish.
Valenciennes 1 - 3 Rennes
Beaten finalists in 2009, Rennes now have the chance to book a place in the final after winning through to the semis over a Valenciennes side who had to play a man down for half the match after Foued Kadir saw red for a reckless tackle on Yann M'Vila just before half time with the score poised at 1-1.
Jonathan Pitroipa had opened the scoring for the visitors when he nodded home opportunistically as David Ducourtioux attempted an ill-advised header back to his 'keeper Nicolas Penneteau (12').
Mamadou Samassa equalised just after the half-hour mark with a powerful header of his own (32') but after Kadir's send-off Rennes made the most of their chances - and further defensive errors from a valiant Valenciennes side - with defender John Boye (53') and striker Youssouf Hadji (87') adding two more to secure the win for Frédéric Antonetti's men.