Inspired Iribaren kicks Racing into Saracens semi-final

Clermont-Ferrand (France) (AFP) –


Scrum-half Teddy Iribaren slotted 20 points to send Racing 92 into the European Champions Cup semi-finals with a 36-27 victory at Clermont on Saturday.

The Parisians will host Saracens in seven days' time after the relegated English champions stunned four-time winners Leinster 25-17 in Dublin earlier.

Japan's Kotaro Matsushima started at full-back for the hosts after missing last weekend's late defeat at Bayonne with a thigh issue.

Racing's Australia full-back Kurtley Beale missed out, though, after being suspended for a dangerous tackle in last Friday's thumping domestic win over Montpellier, his place taken by Irish international Simon Zebo who was returning from injury.

Racing raced into an 11-0 lead after 12 minutes as winger Louis Dupichot crossed and 29-year-old Iribaren slotted a pair of penalty goals.

Dupichot was then stretchered off with a leg injury and replaced by French international fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc. Clermont hooker Etienne Falgoux finally got the home side on the board with a try in the 23rd minute.

Iribaren and Clermont's Camille Lopez then traded penalties as the away team led 17-8 with five minutes of the half remaining.

Trinh-Duc, who has struggled with an arm problem since his last Test in 2018, set-up his own effort with tidy chip kick and Iribaren's extras made it 24-8 at the break.

Racing's dominance and Iribaren's solid form with the boot continued into the second half as the uncapped scrum-half added two further penalties to stretch the lead to 30-8 with 22 minutes to play.

Wesley Fofana and Japan's Kotaro Matsushima, with his first try in Clermont colours, cut the deficit before Iribaren's replacement Maxime Machenaud edged his side further ahead to 36-22 with seven minutes to go.

France winger Damian Penaud made Racing sweat by crossing with three minutes left but the Parisians held out to set up a re-run of the 2016 final against Sarries.

On Sunday four-time winners Toulouse host Ulster and Exter Chiefs welcome Northampton Saints for places in the other last four tie.