Ten-man PSG beat Lille to retain French League Cup title
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Angel Di Maria scored with his side down to 10 men as Paris Saint-Germain beat Lille 2-1 in the French League Cup final at the Stade de France on Saturday, to remain on course for a domestic clean sweep of titles.
The Ligue 1 champions, whose European campaign ended in disappointment earlier this month with defeat to Manchester City, can still repeat last year's treble if they beat old rivals Marseille in the French Cup final on May 21.
"Even down to 10 players my players want to win. Maybe the team that dealt better with the pressure won," PSG coach Laurent Blanc said. "We can still have a great season. I hope my players keep their concentration in the weeks to come."
Blanc's men were made to work hard by a Lille team that had won its past six games and dominated much of the second half, only to be undone by Di Maria's 75th-minute goal.
"We were expecting it to be a difficult match against an athletic Lille team that plays much the same way we do," Blanc said. "I said to my players, 'get used to winning and hate losing.' I've been here for three years and this team has a lot of pride."
PSG had taken a first-half lead five minutes before the break in contentious circumstances, with Javier Pastore's shot passing through the legs of an offside Layvin Kurzawa on its way into the net.
But Lille hit back shortly after the restart when Djibril Sidibe fired a free-kick through the wall and into the net.
The capital city side were dealt a huge blow when Adrien Rabiot was shown a second yellow card for a cynical foul on the impressive Sofiane Boufal with 20 minutes remaining.
But a moment of madness from Lille goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama allowed Di Maria to roll in the winner with 16 minutes to play for his 15th goal of the season.
"It's very hard, we are very disappointed," said Lille winger Boufal.
"We must congratulate Paris, even with ten, they proved they are a great team. We were beaten by the stronger side."
Mad day for Enyeama
Blanc opted to play Lucas Moura alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Di Maria up front, leaving Edinson Cavani on the bench, while the returning Marco Verratti was named among the substitutes.
PSG should have taken the lead just 21 seconds in, but after being set up by Ibrahimovic, Di Maria drilled his shot from only 10 yards out straight at Enyeama, who made an excellent save.
Lille, who came into this match on a six-game winning streak, grew into the contest and PSG goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu had to be alert to prevent Marquinhos from putting through his own net after Mounir Obbadi's pass caused panic in the defence.
The holders though broke the deadlock when a corner was only cleared as far as Pastore.
The Argentine's scuffed volley took a wicked deflection to beat Enyeama, whose furious appeals that Kurzawa was interfering with play from an offside position were waved away.
Enyeama had to be dragged away from the officials at the interval, but Lille channelled their frustrations perfectly by levelling in the 49th minute.
Sirigu was left fuming at his defenders after full-back Sidibe grabbed his sixth goal of the season with a low free-kick that split the wall in two.
Things went from bad to worse for PSG when they were reduced to ten men after Rabiot hacked down the marauding Boufal.
The deciding goal was one of the most bizarre of the season, and Nigerian keeper Enyeama was at fault.
A long clearance from Sirigu was nodded through for Di Maria by Lille's Adama Soumaoro, but despite having defenders covering, Enyeama raced 30 yards out of his goal to give the PSG forward the simple task of knocking the ball past him and into a gaping net.
Frederic Antonetti's Lille had chances to equalise, with Soumaoro heading wide from a free-kick and Obbadi seeing his volley bounce agonisingly past the post, but PSG held on.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)
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