Alexandre Lacazette’s quickfire brace helps Lyon to Coupe de France final

By Sports Desk April 02, 2024

Lyon reached their first Coupe de France final for 12 years after beating Ligue 2 strugglers Valenciennes 3-0.

They will play Paris St Germain or Rennes in the final following a victory inspired by captain Alexandre Lacazette at Groupama Stadium.

Lacazette struck twice during a six-minute spell shortly after half-time to subdue a team 28 places below Lyon in the French league pyramid, while Gift Orban added a third.

Valenciennes went into the semi-final clash – their first last-four appearance since 1970 – as rank outsiders.

They are 11 points adrift at the bottom of Ligue 2 and had failed to score a goal in four league games since knocking out quarter-final opponents Rouen.

But it was far from plain-sailing for Lyon, who saw their opponents have a goal disallowed just before the interval.

Valenciennes found themselves under early pressure, with goalkeeper Jean Louchet forced into an early save from Said Benrahma’s shot, before Duje Caleta-Car was off-target from close range.

Although the visitors slowly grew into the game, they again found themselves in defensive mode as Lyon launched another attack, but Ernest Nuamah was wide with a header and then a shot during the space of two minutes.

Valenciennes had been under sustained pressure, yet they had a goal disallowed seven minutes before half-time when Sirine Doucoure’s effort was ruled out following a VAR review that picked up a foul on Lyon’s Jake O’Brien during build-up play.

It was a wake-up call for Lyon, but they could no find way through by half-time as their frustration surfaced when Clinton Mata collected a booking.

But the deadlock was broken six minutes into the second period when a foul by Valenciennes’ Joffrey Cuffaut gave Lacazette a golden opportunity from the penalty spot, and he made no mistake.

Lacazette was booked for excessive celebrations, yet a sense of relief swept around the stadium as Valenciennes’ impressive resistance had finally been broken.

The former Arsenal striker struck again six minutes later when his close-range shot beat Louchet and Orban then added a third as the clock ticked down.

Related items

  • 'We cannot replace him' – Mbappe departs PSG 'filled with joy' 'We cannot replace him' – Mbappe departs PSG 'filled with joy'

    Kylian Mbappe says he is leaving Paris Saint-Germain with his head held high but Luis Enrique does not expect to replace his star forward.

    Mbappe announced this month he would leave the French capital at the end of the season after a seven-year stay during which he became their all-time top scorer, with 256 goals.

    His last game for Luis Enrique's side came in Saturday's Coupe de France final at Lille's Stade Pierre-Mauroy, with first-half strikes from Ousmane Dembele and Fabian Ruiz securing a 2-1 win against Lyon.

    "It was both difficult and enjoyable because it's a final, and in the end, we won. It's filled with joy," Mbappe told reporters.

    "It's all good memories, many years, both at PSG and of course in this league. We leave with our heads held high, especially with a trophy, and we only keep the positives."

    Mbappe has been heavily linked with a move to Spanish giants Real Madrid.

    Asked why he had not announced his next club yet, the 25-year-old said: "Because I think that the best thing to do is to finish these goodbyes.

    "I think all I wanted was to finish well with my club. There's a trophy. I think there's a time for everything.

    "I'll announce my new club in due course. I think we're just a few days away, so there's no problem."

    PSG head coach Luis Enrique says there will be no single replacement for Mbappe, placing the focus on the entire team.

    "I have had the good fortune to coach Kylian this season, it has been a difficult one for him after seven years at his club and all that he has achieved, it is difficult to say goodbye," Enrique told a news conference.

    "There is no substitute for Mbappe, we cannot replace him, we will do it through the team and four, five or six signings we can make.

    "Kylian's replacement will be the team that, along with the fans and our ambition, will try to win everything in the following seasons."

  • Bayer Leverkusen's 'dream season' down to self-belief – Alonso Bayer Leverkusen's 'dream season' down to self-belief – Alonso

    Bayer Leverkusen's Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal double was the result of players keeping faith in the team throughout what turned into a dream season, so says Xabi Alonso.

    Leverkusen added the Pokal to their Bundesliga crown with a 1-0 victory over second-tier Kaiserslautern.

    Granit Xhaka scored the only goal of the game as he arrowed in from distance in the 16th minute.

    "In the end, to win like that meant we showed spirit, we fought for the fans for the club," said Alonso.

    "It is a huge success to win the double. We will remember this in the future."

    Leverkusen lost only one of 53 matches across all competitions this season, with that sole defeat coming in Wednesday's Europa League final against Atalanta, denying them a treble.

    "The most important thing was the belief of the team. They were ready to battle with 10 players and I am proud of that," Alonso said.

    "I need time to accept what happened this season. It was a dream season and to celebrate the last day like this here is special."

    Leverkusen will be looking to build on their success next season, with Alonso having snubbed the advances of Liverpool and Bayern Munich in order to stay at the club.

  • 'If they don't want me, I'll win trophies somewhere else' – Ten Hag bullish after Man Utd win FA Cup 'If they don't want me, I'll win trophies somewhere else' – Ten Hag bullish after Man Utd win FA Cup

    Erik ten Hag was in a feisty mood as he took on the press following Manchester United's FA Cup triumph, insisting he will win trophies anywhere he goes.

    It was reported on Friday that United had made the decision to sack Ten Hag regardless of whether or not he managed to claim a shock FA Cup win over Manchester City.

    Yet the Dutchman did just that at Wembley on Saturday, with first-half goals from Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo enough to claim a 2-1 victory.

    It is United's first FA Cup success since 2016. On that occasion, Ten Hag's compatriot, Louis van Gaal, was sacked after claiming the trophy.

    And Ten Hag was in no mood to be criticised when he told reporters: "We have to keep going, and I'm not satisfied with it, we have to do better and if they don't want me anymore, then I go will somewhere else to win trophies, because that is what I did my whole career.

    "That is what they always tell me."

    The former Ajax coach subsequently cut short his press conference when it was put to him by a journalist that United, who finished eighth in the Premier League, were still way behind where they should be.

    "Sorry to say this, but you don't have any knowledge about football, about managing a football team," Ten Hag said. "When you don't have the players available, then you can't perform, so simple as that.

    "And if that is the opinion, it is no problem. Then I go anywhere else and I go and keep winning trophies."

    Ten Hag, who waved to the Red Devils' fans at full-time, has now won two trophies with United, having taken them to an EFL Cup triumph last season.

    City manager Pep Guardiola said United must now make a decision.

    "They have to take a decision. He's a lovely person and an extraordinary manager," Guardiola said.

    "Winning the FA Cup is important for them like last season it was for us."

    Reflecting on City's loss, Guardiola said: "Disappointed today, it's normal teams can lose finals but this season has been extraordinary fighting for all the trophies in a good way.

    "We will rest and come back next season."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.