Les Parisiens have lifted the French Cup and have sealed a place in Europe next season...
Paris Saint-Germain ran out deserved 1-0 winners of the Coupe de France after extra-time was required to separate Antoine Kombouare’s side and Monaco.
Normal time only had a few truly meaningful efforts, but those tended to come from the Ile-de-France side. After an hour and a half of fruitless play, and additional 30 minutes were required. It was around halfway through this period that Guillaume Hoarau stooped to head the decisive goal of the encounter.
The early stages of the game suggested that Monaco could be a real force in the match as they won several set pieces around the PSG penalty box, but on each occasion the capital side’s rearguard held out well.
After enduring a difficult though hardly fraught first ten minutes, les Rouge et Bleu started to exert some meaningful pressure of their own. Sylvain Armand raided forward from the left-back position to have the first strike at goal, though it was deflected wide of target by the frame of Sebastien Puygrenier. From the resultant corner, Hoarau headed by Sebastien Ruffier, but Juan Pablo Pino was stationed on the line to clear.
Monaco were under significant pressure at this stage and threatened to ship the vital goal only seconds later. This time it was Ludovic Giuly who chanced his arm, though his stinging effort was terrifically turned away by Ruffier, who showed few signs of the injury that had rendered him doubtful for this encounter.
These were times of worry for les Monegasques, yet they managed to stablise themselves quite a bit before the interval. Though Guy Lacombe’s side were more defensively assured, they were making few inroads into the PSG defence and were being starved of possession for periods. Mevlut Erding floated a header into the gloves of Ruffier, serving a warning to the southerners.
Moments before the interval, it was PSG’s turn to worry. Pino showed all his individual flair to create an opening but saw his shot well saved by Apoula Edel.
PSG regained their status as chief protagonists after the break. Hoarau had an effort blocked, before penalty appeals from the capital side were waved away when Mevlut Erding fell to earth under a Djimi Traore challenge.
The men from the principality weren’t as passive as they were in the opening 45 minutes and seriously threatened through a series of long range efforts. Nene drew a couple of saves from Edel and Pino would also force the goalkeeper into action.
But the big chance of normal time would fall to les Parisiens, who went desperately close to claiming the crown with just eight minutes of normal time remaining. Erding managed to get away from the rearguard after a mistake in the Monaco midfield, but his finished crashed off the crossbar.
Extra-time did not bring with it a great change in the pattern of play. PSG continued to probe more meaningfully, and just seconds before the halfway mark in the additional half hour of play, the Parc des Princes side moved into the ascendancy. Claude Makelele was the chief architect of the strike, opening up the Monaco defence with a smart turn and pass 30 yards from goal. Christophe Jallet was the recipient of the old stager’s low ball into the right channel, and though his fierce shot was well saved by Ruffier, the goalkeeper could do nothing to prevent the ball dropping perfectly onto the head of Hoarau, who had a simple task to knock home from only a couple of yards out.
Tempers started to become tested as the game drew to a close. Hoarau and Eduardo Costa indulged in a spot of handbags, earning both players yellow cards, though the best Monaco could muster was an effort from 25 yards from Nene that was courageously blocked behind by a PSG body.
As the match drew to a close, Park Chu Young nearly reached a late cross, but despite their nerves, PSG held out with something to spare, giving them valuable silverware in what has otherwise been a fairly miserable campaign.
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