Obraniak stunner gives Lille cup edge
A stunning last-minute free-kick by substitute Ludovic Obraniak gave Lille a 1-0 victory over holders Paris Saint-Germain in today's Coupe de France final to end the club's 56-year wait for silverware.
The Polish international whipped a dipping shot past PSG goalkeeper Gregory Coupet from close to the right-hand corner flag, snatching victory for Lille and keeping the French league leaders on course for a domestic double.
Rudi Garcia's side could also afford to miss an injury-time penalty, with Mathieu Debuchy's spot-kick blocked by Coupet after the former French international had sent Gervinho sprawling in the box. Their long wait for honours over, Lille - who last tasted success in this competition in 1955 - will now seek to protect their four-point lead at the Ligue 1 summit over the last three games of the season.
"We're happy, you realise that the people of Lille have been waiting for this for 56 years," said Lille coach Rudi Garcia. "We know that Ludo's [Obraniak] left foot can do damage, particularly from set-pieces. He put in a masterly free-kick."
Attacking the tribune housing their own fans in the first half, Lille made a bright start, but the best effort at goal they could muster was a close-range Adil Rami header that looped over the crossbar from Yohan Cabaye's corner.
Lille goalkeeper Mickael Landreau came to his side's rescue in unorthodox fashion in the 18th minute when he used his legs to block Nene's firm 25-yard free-kick, with Siaka Tiene lifting the rebound over the bar.
Despite the presence on the pitch of three of the four nominees for the Ligue 1 player of the year award - Moussa Sow and Eden Hazard for Lille, and Nene for PSG - both sides struggled to bring their flair players into the game. Nene's frustrations boiled over shortly before the break, when he was booked for flinging an angry elbow at Cabaye.
Guillaume Hoarau tested Landreau with a curling effort early in the second half and the Lille goalkeeper then had to be alert to bat away a wicked, in-swinging corner from Nene that threatened to go straight in.
Lille coach Garcia made a bold change with half an hour remaining, introducing Brazilian striker Tulio de Melo in place of defensive midfielder Idrissa Gueye. PSG responded by sending on Mevlut Erding and the Turkish striker promptly teed up Hoarau for the hitherto most clear-cut opportunity of the evening, only for the No9 to completely miscue his shot from six yards out.
Erding's entrance sparked the Parisians, and Clement Chantome saw a narrow drive tipped around the post by Landreau. Extra time seemed inevitable when Obraniak won a free-kick wide on the right-hand touchline, but with the Paris defence anticipating a cross, the 26-year-old deceived Coupet with an audacious shot that dipped beneath the bar.
Coupet kept PSG alive by repelling Debuchy's penalty, but it was only a matter of time before the Lille celebrations began. Despite their disappointment, PSG will not have long to wait for revenge, as the teams resume hostilities at Parc des Princes next Saturday in a match pivotal to Lille's hopes of winning the title.