Matsui sends Lyon crashing

Japan midfielder Daisuke Matsui booked Le Mans's spot in the French League Cup semi-final on Wednesday with a 1-0 win at home against Lyon in what was sweet revenge for their demise to the same opponents in last season's last four clash.

Matsui's powerful 29th-minute strike toppled the six-time French champions in a match which had been postponed from Tuesday because of strong winds at the Leon-Bollee Stadium.

Alain Perrin's Lyon were sorely missing midfielder Hatem Ben Arfa, who picked up a thigh injury in training and was replaced by the inexperienced Loic Remy.

Perrin bemoaned their exiting even if it is the lowest of his priorities in terms of silverware this season.

"It is a reverse, that is certain," said the former Troyes, Portsmouth and Marseille coach. "This was one of our targets this season and now it has gone.

"We paid for our first-half performance where we just did not play the match as if it were a Cup match."

For his Le Mans counterpart Rudi Garcia, it was a case of vastly different emotions.

"This is a huge achievement by my players," he said. "We will savour this victory. Victory has gone to the side that wanted it the most."

Without their African players Romaric and Ibrahima Camara, who returned to their national teams for the CAF Africa Cup of Nations, 27-year-old Matsui proved to be the stalwart of the Le Mans side.

Lyon lacked fire in their forward line with star striker Karim Benzema thwarted at every turn by the hosts as he lacked the support of his strike partners Milan Baros while Brazilian international Fred appeared for ten minutes in what is likely to be his last appearance for the French side before a move to an English Premiership side.

Apart from solo attacks from Benzema, Lyon's best chance was a Juninho freekick three minutes before the break which was cleared by Jean Clave.

Le Mans' victory gives them a lift after they struggled to get past amateur side Selongey in the last round and a 2-0 loss at home to Sochaux at the weekend.