Wednesday , July 24 2024

Angel di Maria nets winner in French League Cup final.

Angel di Maria scored with his side down to 10 men as Paris Saint-Germain beat Lille 2-1 to win the French League Cup for the third straight time on Saturday and remain on course to defend its domestic treble.

French champion PSG can repeat the treble by beating bitter rival 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.’

They were made to work hard by a Lille team that had won their past six games and dominated much of the second half, only to be undone by Di Maria’s 75th-minute goal.

Manchester United flop Angel di Maria shows his delight after scoring what turned out to be the winning 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 was on the back foot after midfielder Adrien Rabiot was sent off in the 70th minute, but Lille dealt poorly with a long clearance and Di Maria intercepted the ball as it was headed back carelessly from midfield by center back Ibrahim Amadou.

Although Lille goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama rushed out to pressure him, Di Maria calmly curled the ball past him with the outside of his left foot from some 40 metres out and watched with glee as it rolled over the line before defender Marko Basa could reach it.

Di Maria made amends for missing a great chance after just 20 seconds of the game, shooting straight at Enyeama after Zlatan Ibrahimovic set him up.

PSG took the lead in the 40th thanks to a shot from Javier Pastore from the edge of the penalty area that took a slight deflection before beating Enyeama, who was remonstrating for offside as a PSG player was stood on the line.

Playing in their first League Cup final, Lille equalised just after half-time through defender Djibril Sidibe’s curling free-kick, and then took command, pressuring PSG’s midfield and forcing Rabiot to over-commit with a wild lunge on winger Sofiane Boufal.

But PSG’s individual brilliance made the difference as Di Maria helped the club extend their record to six League Cups since winning the first competition in 1995.

The win will go a little way to easing the recent disappointment of PSG’s elimination from the quarter-finals of the Champions League, where they were knocked out by Manchester City.

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