Di Maria scores winner as PSG beats Lille to win League Cup
ABS-CBN Sports on Apr 24, 2016 10:48 AM
PSG's Angel Di Maria, right, celebrates with teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic after scoring during the League Cup final soccer match between Paris Saint Germain and Lille, at the Stade de France stadium, in Saint Denis, north of Paris, Saturday, April 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
JEROME PUGMIRE, AP Sports Writer
PARIS (AP) — Angel Di Maria scored with his side down to 10 men as Paris Saint-Germain beat Lille 2-1 to win the French League Cup for the third straight time on Saturday and remain on course to defend its domestic treble.
French champion PSG can repeat the treble by beating bitter rival Marseille in the French Cup final on May 21.
"Even down to 10 players my players want to win. Maybe the team that dealt better with the pressure won," PSG coach Laurent Blanc said. "We can still have a great season. I hope my players keep their concentration in the weeks to come."
They were made to work hard by a Lille team that had won its past six games and dominated much of the second half, only to be undone by Di Maria's 75th-minute goal.
"We were expecting it to be a difficult match against an athletic Lille team that plays much the same way we do," Blanc said. "I said to my players, 'get used to winning and hate losing.' I've been here for three years and this team has a lot of pride."
PSG was on the back foot after midfielder Adrien Rabiot was sent off in the 70th, but Lille dealt poorly with a long clearance and Di Maria intercepted the ball as it was headed back carelessly from midfield by center half Ibrahim Amadou. Although Lille goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama rushed out to pressure him, Di Maria calmly curled the ball past him with the outside of his left foot from some 40 meters out and watched with glee as it rolled over the line before defender Marko Basa could reach it.
Di Maria made amends for missing a great chance after just 20 seconds of the game, shooting straight at Enyeama after Zlatan Ibrahimovic set him up.
PSG took the lead in the 40th thanks to a shot from Javier Pastore from the edge of the penalty area that took a slight deflection before beating Enyeama, who was remonstrating for offside as a PSG player was stood on the line.
Playing in its first League Cup final, Lille equalized just after halftime through defender Djibril Sidibe's curling free kick, and then took command, pressuring PSG's midfield and forcing Rabiot to over-commit with a wild lunge on winger Sofiane Boufal.
But PSG's individual brilliance made the difference as Di Maria helped the club extend its record to six League Cups since winning the first competition in 1995.
The win will go a little way to easing the recent disappointment of PSG's elimination from the quarterfinals of the Champions League, where it was knocked out by Manchester City.
In the French league's only game, midfielder Corentin Tolisso scored five minutes from time as Lyon beat relegation-threatened Toulouse 3-2 to secure a vital win in its chase for second place.
In a frantic finish, striker Alexandre Lacazette put the visitors 2-1 up in the 80th minute — his eighth goal in the past seven games — only for Toulouse striker Wissam Ben Yedder to equalize two minutes later.
But Tolisso was left unmarked at the far post to turn in a deflected cross from substitute Nabil Fekir.
Lyon's sixth win in eight games moved it provisionally into second place, one point ahead of Monaco — which plays on Sunday — and two ahead of fourth-place Nice, which beat struggling Reims 2-0 on Friday.
Despite Ben Yedder's 16th of the campaign, Toulouse remained in 19th place and three points away from safety with three games left.