Fri, Mar 02, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Di Maria leads PSG over Marseille 3-0

INJURY CONCERNS:The club confirmed that Neymar would be undergoing surgery for a fracture in his foot, while Kylian Mbappe left the match in the second half

AFP, PARIS

Paris Saint-Germain’s Julian Draxler bicycle-kicks the ball in their Coupe de France semi-final against Olympique de Marseille at the Parc de Princes in Paris on Wednesday.

Photo: AFP

Angel Di Maria on Wednesday grabbed two goals as Paris Saint-Germain downed fierce rivals Olympique de Marseille 3-0 to reach the Coupe de France semi-finals, hours after the club confirmed Neymar would undergo surgery on his fractured foot.

The Argentina international replaced injured Neymar in the starting lineup at the Parc des Princes and struck the opening goal in first-half stoppage-time.

Di Maria added a second shortly after the interval before Edinson Cavani wrapped up a second 3-0 victory over Marseille in four days, following Sunday’s home Ligue 1 win that came at a heavy cost.

PSG announced shortly before kickoff that Neymar, the world’s most expensive player, would travel to Brazil for an operation at the end of the week after suffering a hairline fracture of the fifth metatarsal in his right foot.

The club said that Rodrigo Lasmar, the surgeon with the Brazilian national squad, would perform the surgery, with Neymar expected to miss between six to eight weeks, according to his father.

“We all took the decision together, the club, the player and the Brazilian team doctor,” PSG president Nasser al-Khelaifi said. “It’s a difficult decision, but it’s the only option we have. We hope to have him back quickly. I can’t say when he will return, all will depend on the recovery.”

The absence of the 222 million euro (US$270.7 million) Brazilian is a bitter blow to PSG as they attempt to overturn a 3-1 deficit against Real Madrid on Tuesday next week in the UEFA Champions League last 16.

The injury news then got worse for PSG when key striker Kylian Mbappe did not appear for the second half on Wednesday after picking up an ankle injury.

“Kylian Mbappe injured his ankle. He asked not to play the second half. I hope that it’s not too serious,” PSG coach Unai Emery said.

Di Maria, who sat out the entirety of the first-leg defeat in Spain two weeks ago, demonstrated all is not lost for Emery’s team as he broke the deadlock with a deflected right-foot strike on the stroke of halftime.

Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda, absent for Sunday’s loss, had produced a magnificent save to deny Di Maria minutes earlier, but was helpless to keep out the Argentine’s shot as it flicked Adil Rami before nestling in the corner.

Poor defending presented the former Real player with his second on 48 minutes, as Aymen Abdennour failed to cut out Yuri Berchiche’s left-wing cross and Di Maria turned home via another deflection with the ball creeping past Mandanda.

Cavani netted a third on 81 minutes — the Uruguayan’s 32nd goal in all competitions this season — as PSG moved a step closer to a fourth successive Coupe de France title.

The holders are joined in the last four of the competition by two third-division clubs — Les Herbiers and Chambly — while Olympique Lyonnais were yesterday to visit Stade Malherbe Caen in the remaining quarter-final.

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