Holders Olympique Lyonnais, currently flying high in Ligue 1, were sensationally knocked out of the French Cup on Sunday in a penalty shoot-out with third division club Epinal.
The round-of-64 match had ended 3-3 after extra-time, and Epinal went on to spring the biggest upset of the weekend when they beat the seven-time French league champions 4-2 on penalties.
Epinal coach Fabien Tissot, a former French second division journeyman, said the result showed the “magic” of Cup soccer at its best.
“We pulled off an extraordinary performance,” Tissot said. “It’s the best victory in my career be it as a player or coach.”
“The lads let nothing go and were rewarded for their efforts. At 2-0 up, I tried to calm everyone down, but it was difficult,” he said.
Lyon coach Remi Garde called the result “disappointing.”
“It’s always a massive disappointment when you’re eliminated by an inferior team. I’m disappointed for the players,” Garde said. “We knew Epinal were a team that could perform. You must give this team credit.”
Epinal took a 2-0 lead in the first quarter of an hour through Tristan Boubaya capitalizing on two Romain Chouleur corners. Bafetembi Gomis and Gueida Fofana scored for Lyon within seven minutes.
Lyon must have thought they had the game wrapped up when striker Lisandro Lopez converted a 62nd penalty, but the eastern club hit back with a Valentin Focki goal with 13 minutes of regulation time to play.
Epinal goalkeeper and captain Olivier Robin made a handful of crucial saves as the two sides battled through a goalless extra 30 minutes.
The penalty shoot-out then went Epinal’s way after misses by Fofana and Bakary Kone, belying the club’s second-last position in the “National” division, 58 spots below Lyon.
There was also much drama, but no shock, at Arras, where league leaders Paris Saint-Germain eventually held on to overcome the hosts 4-3.
At 2-0 up after just eight minutes thanks to goals from Ezequiel Lavezzi and Blaise Matuidi, the Qatari-backed club looked to be home and dry.
However, Arras hit back with a goal from Mustapha Ait Bouhou before Zoumana Camara notched a third goal for PSG five minutes before the break.
The home side did not lie down, however, making it 2-3 when Arnaud Despres fired home after 51 minutes. Lavezzi scored his second to hand PSG some breathing space, but a nervy final 10 minutes were guaranteed after Sebastien Bernard scored Arras’ third.