Thu, Jan 16, 2014 - Page 18 News List

PSG saunter into semis

TREBLE BECKONS:Despite resting several regular starters, Paris Saint-Germain beat Bordeaux at home to stay on course for what would be an unprecedented treble

AFP, PARIS

Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Blaise Matuidi, center, shoots to score during their French League Cup match against Bordeaux on Tuesday at the Jacques Chaban-Delmas Stadium in Bordeaux.

Photo: AFP

Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) reached the semi-finals of the French League Cup after an ultimately comfortable 3-1 victory away to Girondins de Bordeaux on Tuesday evening.

Javier Pastore, Adrien Rabiot and Blaise Matuidi got the goals for the reigning Ligue 1 champions, while a strike from Andre Biyogo Poko had brought Bordeaux level in the second half at the Stade Chaban-Delmas.

It is the first time that PSG have reached the semi-finals of any knockout competition since the Qatari takeover of the club in 2011 and the win keeps them on course for what would be an unprecedented domestic treble.

Matuidi said that the performance indicated they could achieve that.

“This evening there were a lot of players out there for us who haven’t had a lot of playing time recently,” he said. “They didn’t show it as they all played really well, which shows that we can be contenders in all the competitions.”

“Our strength is that we never doubt ourselves, we have huge confidence in ourselves, but it isn’t excessive, it is that which is good,” Matuidi added.

The victory was achieved despite coach Laurent Blanc’s decision to rest several regular starters, including Thiago Motta, Matuidi and Edinson Cavani.

Brazilian centerback Marquinhos lined up at rightback, while Zoumana Camara, Pastore and Jeremy Menez all came into the team as PSG sought to beat Bordeaux for the third time this season.

The capital club emerged victorious when the teams met in the season-opening Champions Trophy and then ran out commanding 2-0 winners in Bordeaux in the league in September last year.

Here, Zlatan Ibrahimovic — just back from claiming the Puskas Award for the best goal of the year at the FIFA gala in Zurich — had a 40th-minute effort disallowed for offside and then fired a free-kick just wide.

However, the visitors still went into the interval a goal to the good after Pastore neatly converted a low ball across the area from Lucas.

Blanc, who won the League Cup with Bordeaux in 2009, sent on Cavani for Ibrahimovic at the interval, but the hosts were back level just three minutes after the restart.

A Marco Verratti pass put Rabiot under pressure deep inside his own half and Poko pounced, dispossessing his opponent and then finishing past Salvatore Sirigu to restore parity.

Home ’keeper Cedric Carrasso then made a decisive double intervention, saving from Menez and turning Lucas Digne’s follow-up onto the post, but Paris went back in front with six minutes remaining.

Pastore robbed Landry N’Guemo of possession in midfield and advanced before setting up Rabiot to convert the clinching goal. Soon after, Pastore and Cavani combined to set up substitute Matuidi, who coolly finished past Carrasso, putting the final outcome beyond doubt.

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