Les Verts completed the double over PSG as they edged their opponents on spot kicks thanks to a fine performance from goalkeeper Stephane RuffierSaint-Etienne upset Paris Saint-Germain by recording a 5-3 victory on penalties after a scoreless draw at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard to progress to the semi-finals of the Coupe de la Ligue.
What promised to be an exciting quarter-final tie proved to be tactical and tight, with the best opportunities falling to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was twice denied by the inspired Stephane Ruffier in the hosts' goal. Penalties were the inevitable conclusion, and it was the home team who held their nerve to progress.
In common with much of this match, the first half was played in a cagey fashion, with both sides toiling to make any great headway. Occasionally, though, there were bursts of real excitement, with the visitors providing the first of these when Ibrahimovic robbed Moustapha Bayal Sall only to be denied expertly by Ruffier.
This would be a battle waged throughout the night, but though the Swede would have a handful more viable sights on goal, he would not manage to defeat the home goalkeeper until the shootout.
At the other end of the field, PSG’s second-string shot-stopper Nicolas Douchez was not being given an opportunity to show his skills. Romain Hamouma was a sporadic threat for the home side but failed to find the target with a couple of long-range shots, while the closest Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would come was a header cleared off the line by Clement Chantome.
Ezequiel Lavezzi, meanwhile, continued his improvement for PSG following a slow start to life in the French capital. The industrious Argentina international actually managed to put the ball in the net during the opening period, but he had strayed a yard offside in making his run and was correctly flagged as such. Although he was denied on that occasion, his whole performance suggested that he has returned from injury a more confident player.
Even into the second half, opportunities remained scarce. Ibrahimovic continued to be frustrated by the home goalkeeper, while Jeremy Menez was similarly foiled after showing nice feet in the box to create space for himself.
Aubameyang spearheaded Saint-Etienne’s rare meaningful attacks, but from another corner kick he volleyed wide, having done well to judge the flight of the ball in the first place.
Extra-time brought one glorious chance for Ibrahimovic following a dreadful back pass, but Ruffier showed terrific bravery to muffle the ball at the feet of the Swede, who appeared destined to score despite stretching to reach the ball.
It was justice that man-of-the-match Ruffier was les Verts’ hero in stoppage time, blocking from Thiago Silva to send his side through as all the home side’s takers scored.
After defeating PSG in Ligue 1 a matter of weeks ago, this completed a fine double for Saint-Etienne.