Edinson Cavani has now scored 40 goals this season for PSG. (Source: Reuters) Edinson Cavani has now scored 40 goals this season for PSG. (Source: Reuters)
Paris Saint-Germain took the first step toward defending its domestic treble by crushing its biggest rival Monaco 4-1 in the League Cup final on Saturday, with striker Edinson Cavani scoring twice to take his season’s tally to a career best 40.
PSG and Monaco are battling for the French title, with Monaco leading PSG by three points, and are involved in the French Cup. PSG lost and drew to Monaco in the league this season, but this emphatic win will give PSG momentum as it seeks to catch Monaco in the league.
“I’m happy for the trophy and for the fact we showed a rival (Monaco) that we could play well. It’s good for our motivation and our confidence,” PSG coach Unai Emery said. “If Monaco gives us the chance to close the gap, we will be ready. We’ll try and win every game.”
PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi defended Emery after PSG’s shocking 6-1 loss to Barcelona in the Champions League three weeks ago, an embarrassing record defeat that sent the club spiraling out of the last 16 after winning the first leg 4-0. Al-Khelaifi, who was so upset at the time, was in upbeat mood after the Monaco game.
“We showed our true face today. We have great players, a great club, a great coach,” he said. “To win against Monaco is really special, and good for our minds. Now we have a lot of confidence for the rest of the season.”
Monaco has been one of Europe’s best attacking teams, scoring a whopping 130 goals in all competitions, but this time poor defending allowed PSG to dictate a one-sided final.
“Every competition is different. It doesn’t mean we’re not going to play as well in the league because we lost this game,” Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim said. “It’s a good experience for a lot of our players, who had never played in a final.”
Cavani, who has considerable experience of playing in big games, was quick to praise his teammates. “We played with humility, consistency and a sense of sacrifice,” the Uruguay striker said.
He volleyed in PSG’s third goal after an exquisite pass from midfielder Marco Verratti to beat his previous best of 38 with Napoli in the 2012-13 season – just before he joined PSG for a French transfer record of 64 million euros ($68 million). He hit a clinical half-volley in the last minute from Angel Di Maria’s superb cross from the left.
Cavani also missed an open goal and had a first-half chance brilliantly saved by goalkeeper Danijel Subasic, but the striker has largely carried PSG with his goals and he has excelled since Zlatan Ibrahimovic left for Manchester United.
Winger Julian Draxler opened the scoring for PSG in the fourth minute, collecting an unselfish pass from Di Maria for an easy tap in, and returned the favor when he set up Di Maria to make it 2-1 just before halftime.
Attacking midfielder Thomas Lemar gave Monaco hope when he scored the goal of the game in the 27th, a brilliant curling shot from the edge of the area that wrong-footed goalkeeper Kevin Trapp.
Monaco was missing top scorer Radamel Falcao through injury and key midfielder Fabinho through suspension. Fabinho’s absence was more keenly felt.
“We really weren’t expecting this,” Monaco midfielder Nabil Dirar said. “Perhaps we showed them too much respect, we let them play, they gained in confidence and we paid the price. “
Marseille 1-1 Dijon
France playmaker Dimitri Payet scored with a superb curling free kick as Marseille salvaged a home draw. After midfielder Gregory Certic’s own goal gave Dijon the lead in first-half injury time, Payet replied three minutes after the break. Some 30 meters from goal, Payet whipped a shot into the left corner with hardly any run up.
Bastia 0-1 Lille
Bastia moved closer to the second division while Lille moved further away from the relegation zone, climbing up to 13th place.
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