Coupe de la Ligue Huitiemes Round Up: Ooh, Ounas

AdamOunas

Given the size and shape of this competition, the scope for a giantkilling is limited, but upsets can still happen. Not this round, unfortunately, although there were some near misses.

All four Ligue 2 teams are now out. On Tuesday, League leaders Dijon were beaten 3-0 by Lorient. They went down to ten men early in the second half, already a goal behind after Benjamin Jeannot’s lovely opener, and Romain Philippoteaux scored against his former club to make it two shortly after the sending off. DFCO kept pushing despite their man disadvantage, but Walid Mesloub put the cherry on it with a late third goal. Laval came closer to springing an upset away at Lille, keeping Vincent Enyeama busy early on, but the only goal of the game came in the 80th minute from Djibril Sidibe, his second in two games.

On Wednesday, Bourg-en-Bresse went down early doors to a close-range finish from Bouna Sarr and with Marseille dominant, looked to be in danger of losing their heads, as Lakhdar Boussaha was booked for dissent after an offside call. They were defending manfully, albeit rather at the limit, when Stephane Sparagna was adjudged to have brought down Rafik Boujedra. Boussaha kept his cool to equalise from the penalty spot. Level at half-time, Michel brought on Lucas Silva for Mauricio Isla for the second half, and Marseille quickly recovered their early dominance, Benjamin Mendy with some great work up the left to set up Lucas Ocampos for the second, and Remy Cabella made it 3-1 with 15 minutes to go. It wouldn’t be Marseille if there wasn’t a late scare, however, as Sparagna gave away another penalty in injury time, which Boussaha also converted.

The final Ligue 2 club in it were Tours, facing the biggest league gap this round (27 places) away at Lyon. Off-screen, the home side went ahead late in the first half through a Claudio Beauvue penalty. Substitute Birahama Tandia levelled the scores on 72 minutes, but Beauvue got a second with five minutes to go to ensure that the last match at the Gerland was a win. Due to reporting confusion, for several minutes it looked like the final goal had been scored by Steed Malbranque, which caused some cheer, but the atmosphere seems to have been a bit down, and the home fans were more welcoming of former player Bryan Bergougnoux than some of their current staff.

In the all-Ligue-1 clashes, Rennes v Toulouse was fairly eventful, featuring a brace from Wissam Ben Yedder, a red card for Yacouba Sylla, a raaaather soft penalty for Rennes after Steeve Yago was adjudged to have déséquilibré Jeremie Boga and Fallou Diagne tucked it away, then a third goal for TFC from Adrien Regattin. Notable, therefore, that after a run of six failed attempts, stretching back to 30 August 2014, Rennes have finally scored a penalty! But Toulouse won 3-1.

More penalties in Guingamp v Nice, who spread the goals out nicely over the 120 minutes. Alexandre Mendy’s first senior goal for Nice was the sixth in that 6-1 tonking of Bordeaux, but he took advantage of a rare start to open the scoring just before half-time, scrambling in a cross from Hatem Ben Arfa. Yannis Salibur missed a penalty but scored the rebound in the 89th minute to force extra time, to the delight of the home crowd. Mendy got his second with a fine strike, before Salibur again equalised (a low long-range freekick) to take it to penalties.

In the shootout, the first four went in, then Mouez Hassen saved from Younousse Sankhare, but Jeremy Pied hit the bar to spurn the chance to go ahead. After another two scored, Guingamp keeper Jonas Lossl stepped up to take, and Hassen saved again. Lossl then went back to the day job to save from Olivier Boscagli before Salibur was the hero for the home side, scoring the sixth spot-kick for EAG; Maxime Le Marchand crashed his effort off the bar.

Another youngster making an impact was Adam Ounas for Bordeaux, who rather cruised past Monaco. His opening goal was a lovely jinking solo run plus in-off-the-post finish, he nearly made it two shortly afterwards, and caused the Monegasque defence problems throughout.

Andrea Raggi put one into the side-netting shortly after the restart, but despite Paul Nardi’s best efforts, Monaco couldn’t muster much in the way of attacking, or indeed marking, and Diego Rolan put the home side 2-0 up just before the hour. Leonardo Jardim brought on Thomas Lemar for Fabinho to give the backline of Wallace, Raggi, and Jeremy Toulalan another run-out after its appearance against Spurs in the Europa League. Ten minutes later, Echiejile Elderson was on for Mario Pasalic (hurt) as they sort of reverted to a back four, but with Ounas replaced by the equally enthusiastic Gaetan Laborde, things didn’t improve for the visitors. Henri Saivet made it 3-0 late on, in an enjoyable bounce-back performance for Bordeaux before they host Marseille at the weekend.

The final game of the round was the grand choc, PSG v St Etienne, with Les Verts putting out a very young team which looked rather like Christophe Galtier was more concerned about the upcoming league game against Angers. The home fans here were also making a point to Laurent Blanc with Salvatore Sirigu getting a mighty welcome.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic hit the crossbar with a flying far-post sideways volley arrangement (naturally) but the stephanois defence put in an impressive performance to stymie the Parisians until the 86th minute, when substitute Edinson Cavani followed a complete screw-up with a wonderful finish from a long ball from fellow sub Angel di Maria. A logical result, therefore, but much credit to the away side, many of whom will have played themselves in contention for more league minutes.

Quarter-Finals

The final excitement of the evening was the draw for the next round, to be played 12/13 January.

Toulouse v Marseille
Bordeaux v Lorient
Guingamp v Lille
PSG v Lyon

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