Mon, May 16, 2011 - Page 20 News List

Lille edge PSG to lift their first major trophy since 1955

Reuters, PARIS

Lille’s Ivorian forward Gervinho celebrates after his teammate, midfielder Ludovic Obraniak, scored the only goal of the French Cup final against Paris Saint-Germain at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, France, on Saturday.

Photo: AFP

Ludovic Obraniak netted with a bizarre late free-kick as double hopefuls Lille lifted the French Cup and their first major trophy since 1955 with a 1-0 win over last season’s winners Paris Saint-Germain on Saturday.

PSG goalkeeper Gregory Coupet, retiring at the end of the season, misjudged Obraniak’s wide free-kick which drifted over his head and went in off the post after 89 minutes.

Coupet redeemed himself slightly by saving Mathieu Debuchy’s penalty moments later, but the damage had been done as Ligue 1 leaders Lille lifted the French Cup for the sixth time, having last triumphed 56 years ago.

Lille could possibly wrap up their first Ligue 1 title since 1954 and their first double since 1946 with two matches to spare against Sochaux on Wednesday if other results go their way.

“At the end, it went our way. It’s 56 years that the people of Lille have been waiting for this,” joyous coach Rudi Garcia told reporters. “Now we are going to savor the win and prepare for Wednesday. Luckily, we didn’t have to play extra-time. We know Ludo’s left foot can cause damage, especially from dead-ball situations.”

Dominant in the 1940s and 1950s, Lille had slipped down the pecking order in France, but the northerners are now very much at the top of their game and they eagerly grabbed the trophy from French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the ticker-tape presentation.

In a match of few chances in front of a packed Stade de France, Lille just about edged the dull encounter, before it burst into life late on.

Gervinho wasted an opening from an early counterattack, while Lille defender Adil Rami headed over and Ligue 1 top scorer Moussa Sow thrashed the ball just too high from distance.

PSG’s only real sniff of a goal before the break was when Lille goalkeeper Mikael Landreau was forced to save Nene’s free-kick with his legs and the second period brought even less goalmouth action for Antoine Kombouare’s team.

“It’s very tough,” Kombouare said. “There is enormous disappointment for the players because they felt they had put in a good performance.”

PSG had veterans Claude Makelele and Ludovic Giuly in their team, but not even their experience could help break down a Lille side who have prospered this term thanks to dogged hard work.

Winger Eden Hazard has often been the player to add the flair during Lille’s surprise return to the upper echelons of French soccer, but even he failed to shine on the day Inter boss Leonardo denied reports his side have bid for the Belgian.

The game looked highly likely to end goalless after 90 minutes, until the unexpected late drama.

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