PSG ease into last four
Hatem Ben Arfa played a starring role as holders Paris Saint-Germain eased past third-tier Avranches 4-0 in the Coupe de France quarter-finals on Wednesday after Angers SCO won through earlier.
Wednesday, April 5 2017
Coupe de France quarter-finals
Avranches 0 - 4 Paris Saint-Germain
PSG coach Unai Emery made eight changes from the team that started last Saturday's Coupe de la Ligue final for this match at the Stade Michel d'Ornano in Caen. Only Serge Aurier, Presnel Kimpembe and Adrien Rabiot were retained but there was never much doubt that PSG would have too much for opponents from the lower reaches of the Championnat National.
Avranches fought gamely and held out for more than half an hour, Paris only really coming close in that time when Ben Arfa's incisive run set up Javier Pastore for a shot that was saved by Anthony Beuve in goal.
There was nothing Beuve - on the books at PSG as a youngster - could do to stop the holders opening the scoring 10 minutes before the break, however. Lucas Moura stood over a free-kick wide on the right edge of the penalty area and laid the ball off for Ben Arfa, whose effort took a deflection on its way in.
Christopher Mayulu tested Alphonse Aréola just before the break but while Avranches fought gamely in the first half, they crumbled at the start of the second period. First Lucas latched onto a Pastore through ball and squared for Ben Arfa to tap in his second of the game (53') and then Florian Le Joncour could only help a Blaise Matuidi on to Lucas, who controlled and fired in (56').
Paris were not finished there, Pastore showing a touch of class to chip the ball over Beuve after a delightful exchange of passes with Ben Arfa eight minutes from the end.
THE PLAYER: Hatem Ben Arfa
Ben Arfa was handed a rare start, just his ninth this season, but his input was crucial in clearing PSG's path to the last four with a brace for the visitors' first two goals and then an assist for Pastore's effort that sealed the win.
THE STAT: 30
So dominant are PSG domestically that this was their 30th consecutive win between Coupe de la Ligue and Coupe de France. Can they win this trophy for the third year running?
Angers SCO 2 - 1 Girondins de Bordeaux
It was the second season running in which these clubs had met here in the Cup. Last year, Bordeaux eased to a 2-1 victory in the round of 32, but this time Angers were determined to exact revenge on a sun-kissed spring evening and in front of a large crowd at the newly rechristened Stade Raymond Kopa.
The evening started well for Angers as they took the lead inside eight minutes. Nicolas Pépé stormed forward down the right flank and crossed low for Kévin Bérigaud to convert from close range for his first goal since signing on loan from Montpellier Hérault SC in January.
Only a fine Cédric Carrasso save prevented Famara Diedhiou from doubling the hosts' lead, but after such a good start Angers were pegged back in the 18th minute, Adam Ounas slotting a pass between the two SCO centre-backs for Younousse Sankharé, who took a touch before picking his spot.
Angers then saw left-back Pablo Martinez hobble off injured and they were denied by Carrasso again on the stroke of half-time, the veteran Bordeaux goalkeeper getting down low to his right to save superbly from a Mateo Pavlovic header following a Thomas Mangani free-kick delivery.
Stéphane Moulin's side, through their desire, their fitness and their physical strength, continued to be the more impressive after the restart and they seized the lead again midway through the second half. Igor Lewczuk intercepted a Bérigaud pass but the ball dropped for Cheikh N'Doye to lash home low from 20 yards for his fourth goal of the season.
Bordeaux pushed in search of an equaliser but were left cursing Alexandre Letellier for a brilliant double save to deny Malcom and Nicolas Pallois late on as they bowed out. Angers held on for another impressive result in what has been an excellent second half to the season for them. They are through to a third Coupe de France semi-final in seven seasons and can keep dreaming of winning a major trophy for the first time.
THE PLAYER: Alexandre Letellier
Letellier was supposed to be Angers' first-choice goalkeeper this season until he suffered ruptured cruciate knee ligaments in training days before the campaign began. He made his first-team return here, eight months on, and his superb late double save secured the SCO's path to the last four.
THE STAT: 8
Angers are unbeaten in eight home games in all competitions in 2017, winning six including their last four. AS Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain both visit the Stade Raymond Kopa in the next 10 days.