Paris Saint-Germain was playing Coupe de France round of 16 tonight in Niort. Unai Emery significantly modified his team for this game as Guedes, Augustin, Nkunku and Krychowiak were present in the starting lineup. The game turned out to be a tough fight under the rain…
The Stade Rene Gaillard is half-drowned under water as the game starts.
PSG is having the best opportunities in the first half: Meunier fires a strong shot on the right side of the box (‘8), Maxwell’s perfect cross is surprisingly not even touched by Augustin (11’), Marquinhos header on a corner kick ends up a few centimeters above the bar (16’).
The Parisians continue to push and a low cross from Guedes is deviated by a defender directly on Niort’s goalkeeper Desmas who saves it (23’). Julian Draxler recuperates the ball in the center and accelerates, breaking his defender and manages to cross the ball but Desmas is there again. Then it’s Krychowiak who finds Maxwell vertically in between Niort lines but the Brazilian pass is not well managed by Guedes (29’).
The last 15 minutes are quite painful to watch and it doesn’t really look like soccer anymore. Both teams struggle to construct and we see long balls, a lot of physical contacts, players sliding one after the other. The referee frees everyone and blows the end of the first half. PSG globally dominated and got the best opportunities without finding the solution yet.
The pitch deteriorates by the minute and we are surely not going to dream much watching the second half but it’s an important fight that PSG must win to preserve a chance to grab the 100th edition of La Coupe de France.
The pains continues when the referee refuses to give penalty after an obvious foul on Nkunku. Cavani (60’) and Pastore (72’) are sent in for Augustin and Krychowiak, both not very convincing tonight after being missing in action in 2017.
Emery’s touch proves to be decisive again after Pastore pushes the ball in the net following a free-kick well dosed by Nkunku (77’, 0-1)!
The game is a succession of attack/defense and Niort tries its best but doesn’t really threaten Alphonse Areola’s goal. Pastore, again, brilliantly sets up Cavani but El Matador loses his face-to-face against Desmas (90’).
Niort will have a last chance on a very dangerous volley that Areola grabs nicely. On the counter attack, Lucas Moura shots in the empty goal deserted by Desmas but the ball is stopped by the mud a few centimeters from the line! We are playing the last seconds and Pastore cuts through Niort’s defense and delivers a perfect low pass to Cavani who just needs to push it in the net (94’, 0-2).
The Argentinian shines again just three days after the butchery at the Velodrome, and more importantly PSG is moving forward in this competition.