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Mbappé's strike takes PSG into Coupe de France final against Lyon

By Paul Myers - RFI
Sports News REUTERS - Stephanie Lecocq
THU, 04 APR 2024 LISTEN
REUTERS - Stephanie Lecocq

Somewhat ironic that Paris Saint-Germain's bogey team Rennes were undone by a bit of old-fashioned fluke on Wednesday night at the Parc des Princes.

Just before half-time, Fabian Ruiz set Kylian Mbappé free down the left. The star striker surged into the Rennes penalty area but seemingly unsure of his wondrousness following two botched attempts, he shot prosaically towards the goal.

Steve Mandanda, who had foiled him on those earlier occasions, had the inconsequential effort covered at the right hand post but the strike hit the trailing foot of Warmed Omari to obtain unwarranted gravitas and roll tauntingly into the left side of the goal as Mandanda lay prone.

The veteran transformed his pose into a theatrically rueful sprawl as Mbappé charged off to celebrate with his teammates and the faithful.

It was his first goal in four games and rather saved his blushes after Mandanda had saved his penalty in the 37th minute and pushed another Mbappé blast onto the crossbar in the opening quarter of an hour.

During the initial exchanges, Rennes showed why they have emerged of late as PSG's bete noire.

They have exuded yeoman ruddiness and favoured toil in their skirmishes with PSG teams boasting stars such as Neymar, Dani Alves and Lionel Messi. Rennes have won four and drawn two of the last 10 games against the big spending Parisians - most famously the 2019 Coupe de France final in which they came from 2-0 down to claim the trophy following a penalty shootout.

Chance

In the prelude to the semi-final, Rennes coach Julien Stéphan - the man who oversaw the cup coup five years ago - said his players would have to perform beyond their usual levels to have any hope of victory. They executed their boss's enjoiner.

They ran and harried their illustrious hosts. Désiré Doué should have opened the scoring for the visitors in the eighth minute but he blazed over the crossbar of the PSG goalkeeper Gigi Donnarumma. Seconds after Mbappé had squandered his first presentable chance, Donnarumma was forced into action to push away Arnaud Kalimuendo's vicious drive.

Rennes were in the game thanks to Mandanda's continuing heroics but yet unable to make a significant impression at the other end. Amine Gouiri was guilty of a sloppy finish early in the second-half with only Donnarumma to beat.

And the Italy international was the busier of the two keepers in the closing stages as Rennes battled for the equaliser that would have taken the tie to a penalty shootout.

Regret

It never came. 
PSG will take on a revitalised Lyon outfit in the final on 25 May at the Pierre Stade Mauroy in Lille.

By then, Luis Enrique's side should have claimed the Ligue 1 crown to add to their French Super Cup title.

A domestic sweep in his first season would vindicate the PSG hierarchy's decision to ditch Chrisophe Galtier after one campaign and replace him with the 53-year-old Spaniard.

Enrique's players are also questing for the Champions League and take on Barcelona on Wednesday in the first leg of the quarter-final. 

Lyon, who appeared doomed for relegation in November with seven points from 14 games, will be seeking a sixth Coupe de France and a first piece of silverware since 2012 while PSG will be hunting for a record 14th Coupe de France title.

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