PARIS, France, May 28 – Unfortunate Issa Cissokho headed agonisingly into his own net in stoppage time to give Paris Saint-Germain a 1-0 win over Angers in the French Cup final at the Stade de France on Saturday.
Extra time loomed at France’s national stadium — where French President Emmanuel Macron was among the spectators — when Cissokho turned an Angel Di Maria corner past his own goalkeeper while under pressure from Blaise Matuidi at the near post.
It was a desperately harsh way for Angers to lose, as PSG ended a frustrating season by winning a third consecutive French Cup and a record 11th overall in the centenary edition of the tournament.
“Luck was on our side tonight,” conceded PSG defender Serge Aurier. “This title is even more important because everything hasn’t been rosy this season, but we were lucky to win titles.
“It goes in the trophy cabinet so it’s magnificent.”
It joins the League Cup in the PSG trophy cabinet and provides some more consolation for the capital side after a season that will be best remembered for their failures elsewhere.
Unai Emery’s side missed out on the league title to Monaco after winning Ligue 1 in each of the previous four campaigns and exited the Champions League in humiliating fashion to Barcelona in the last 16.
That 6-1 defeat at the Camp Nou — after they had won the first leg 4-0 at home — will be a lasting stain on PSG’s reputation and that of Emery.
However, their status as domestic Cup specialists remains very much intact after this victory against a hard-working Angers side who were appearing in their first French Cup final in 60 years.
– ‘Cruel’ –
Defeat means they have still never won a major trophy, while PSG have now lifted the French Cup six times just since 2004 and have won their last 32 domestic Cup ties.
It also means Bordeaux, who came sixth in the league, go into next season’s Europa League, with Paris already assured a Champions League berth after coming second.
“When you lose it’s always cruel,” said Angers coach Stephane Moulin.
“We were only one minute away from extra time. Two words spring to mind, disappointment and great pride, because the players delivered a high quality final.
“We were up against a rival who were superior to us this evening but they were unable to show it in terms of goals.”
Given the gulf in resources between the two teams, it would have been an almighty shock had Paris not come out on top, although they were pushed all the way by a side who finished 12th in Ligue 1.
Macron just made it back from the G7 summit in Sicily in time to take to the pitch before kick-off, shaking the hands of the players from both sides.
His entry onto the pitch was greeted with loud jeers from the Paris fans at the south end of the ground — the newly-elected leader does not hide his affinity for PSG’s bitter rivals Marseille.
When the action began, PSG created most of the chances, while Angers rarely looked like scoring apart from when exciting Ivorian winger Nicolas Pepe crashed a volley against the post from 22 yards out in the first half.
Before that Angers goalkeeper Alexandre Letellier saved from Matuidi and Edinson Cavani, while there was a fright for Stephane Moulin’s team when Serge Aurier’s low, driven cross flashed across goal with no takers just before the interval.
Many PSG fans thought a Di Maria free-kick just before the hour mark had gone in rather than strike the side-netting, but the holders looked the more likely side to find the breakthrough as time wore on.
They should have scored with six minutes left but Cavani, after holding off the muscular attentions of Angers defender Ismael Traore, prodded wide of the target.
The Uruguayan fell one short of reaching 50 goals for the season in all competitions — the figure reached last season by Zlatan Ibrahimovic in a PSG shirt — as Cissokho’s moment of misfortune decided the contest.