PARIS, France, Jan 23 – Holders Paris Saint-Germain advanced to the last 16 of the French Cup with a 2-0 win over Strasbourg on Wednesday, but their evening was marred by the sight of Neymar going off injured.
Edinson Cavani and Angel di Maria got the goals on a bitterly cold night at the Parc des Princes, while in between Neymar limped off with an apparent foot injury.
The Brazilian covered his eyes as he went off to be replaced by Moussa Diaby just after the hour mark, a worrying sign for the PSG camp with the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Manchester United less than three weeks away.
Coach Thomas Tuchel had already chosen to rest Kylian Mbappe for this game, with Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting handed a rare start in place of the superstar France forward.
The Cameroon international set up Cavani for the fourth-minute opener, before Di Maria — who had earlier hit the post — finished into the roof of the net 10 minutes from time as PSG stay on track to win the French Cup for the fifth season running.
Before kick-off, fans applauded and chanted the name of Emiliano Sala, the former Nantes striker who is feared dead after the plane he was travelling in disappeared over the Channel Islands on Monday as he was on his way to join his new club Cardiff City.
– ‘Deeply affected’ –
Nantes’ own Cup tie away at third-tier Entente Sannois Saint-Gratien has been postponed until Sunday, with their players still in a state of shock over Sala’s disappearance.
Elsewhere, Caen ended the run of plucky sixth-tier amateurs Viry-Chatillon in a 6-0 rout, with Yacine Bammou setting the Ligue 1 club on their way.
An emotional Bammou raised his hands towards the sky after his early goal, in tribute to Sala, with whom he played at Nantes last season.
Caen coach Fabien Mercadal said Bammou had made clear his desire to be involved despite the tragic turn of events.
“We talked about it. What happened is not fair. He was a friend to Yacine, he was deeply affected. The worst thing for him would have been to not play,” said Mercadal.
A group of Caen supporters, for whom Sala spent the second half of the 2014-15 season on loan, also fastened a banner that read “Emiliano” to a fence surrounding the pitch.
Elsewhere, Naim Sliti scored a hat-trick as relegation-threatened Dijon claimed a stunning 6-3 win away at Saint-Etienne for their first victory under new coach Antoine Kombouare, while Rennes overcame fourth-division Saint-Pryve 2-0.