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Alba Iulia
Monday, August 3, 2020

PSG completed the domestic clean sweep in the final Coupe de la Ligue final

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Paris Saint-Germain scored a clear recovery of the French national trophies for 2019-2020 while Keylor Navas and Pablo Sarabia won a 6-5 penalty win against Lyon after 120 minutes without goals in the last Coupe de la Ligue final .

Thomas Tuchel’s men had already conquered the Trophee des Champions, Ligue 1 and Coupe de France, and despite the absence of the injured Kylian Mbappe on Friday, PSG did enough to blow up Les Gones.

While both sides made several half-chances, the time of the match resembled that of a pre-season race as opposed to a cup final, and PSG – which was 1-0 wins on last year’s Coupe de France show weekend – perhaps not surprisingly it seemed a little more acute.

A flurry of activity towards the end of the 45 minute opener was not sustained in the second half, with the game looking like overtime long before regulation 90 expired.

Rafael da Silva’s 119-minute expulsion came too late to make a real impact, but in the subsequent shootout the PSG kept his nerve while Navas saved Bertrand Traore from sudden death and Sarabia took home the decisive football.

A largely accident-free first half exploded in its final stages, with both sides rejecting opportunities.

Neymar and Angel Di Maria missed similar chances when they played behind Lyon’s defense, failing to adequately test goalkeeper Anthony Lopes, who had previously produced an acrobatic save to overturn Idrissa Gueye’s long-range attack.

Lyon also showed signs of life on the other end – Houssem Aouar missed his kick amid Memphis Depay’s well-placed shot before Jason Denayer nodded just in rest time.

The increase in the flow of possibilities continued at the beginning of the second period, with Depay seeing a distressingly deflected shot over the post and Lopes kicking off a free kick by Neymar.

But the pace of the game quickly decreased significantly until the late stages, when Thiago Mendes had a well saved free kick from Navas and Lopes pushed Neymar’s header, ensuring that the game went to extra time.

PSG could not capitalize on Rafael’s red card – for having stumbled Di Maria to the maximum inclination – right at the end of the extra 30 minutes, even if they did the job eventually.

After five perfect penalties were made on both sides, Traore saw his unconvincing free kick blocked by Navas and Sarabia took full advantage of a sure shot past Lopes to seal a clean fourth domestic shot in six years.

What does it mean? One to go for PSG

We have been here before. Nowadays PSG’s dominance over French football is a foregone conclusion. But what comes next is the prize they truly obsess over.

The entire being of PSG since their acquisition in 2011 by Qatar Sports Investments revolves around the goal of winning the Champions League.

Another blow to that challenge is a few days away, and the revised one-legged format in the later stages of this season’s competition – due to the coronavirus pandemic – probably offers them the best chance yet.

Lopes an unfortunate loser

Lyon boss Rudi Garcia confirmed Thursday that Ciprian Tatarusanu should have started on goal, but a back injury suffered during training meant that Lopes was on the team and enjoyed the opportunity. There have been few instances where the Portuguese international shouldn’t have had a save, but it has proven to be an impressive and safe presence on goal for 120 minutes. Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t get close to PSG’s rigors.

Anonymous Icardi

While there were few prominent artists, Mauro Icardi was particularly disappointing for PSG. The Argentine striker touched the ball just nine times before his retirement in the 58th minute and failed to make a single shot.

What’s next?

Both teams now turn their attention to the Champions League, with a potentially exhilarating quarter-final match against Atalanta in Lisbon one week on Wednesday pending PSG. As for Lyon, they are in action against Juventus on 7 August, while they go to Turin with a 1-0 lead since the last first leg of the last 16.

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