Lille toast cup success with fans
Over 15,000 fans turned out to cheer on Lille's players at the city's town hall today, as they celebrated their 1-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain in yesterday's Coupe de France final. Lille, without a major trophy since 1955, prevailed at Stade de France in Paris thanks to a dramatic last-minute free-kick from their Polish international winger, Ludovic Obraniak.
A huge crowd of supporters acclaimed the team as they appeared on stage in front of the town hall, where they were welcomed by city mayor Martine Aubry, proudly clad in a red and white Lille scarf.
"There are three days (games) left in the championship and we hope to win another trophy," said coach Rudi Garcia, who held the cup aloft with club president Michel Seydoux. "You can count on us."
Lille currently lead the French league championship by four points with three games remaining, although defending champions Marseille can cut the gap to one point if they win at Lorient later today.
Obraniak explained to reporters how he had managed to deceive PSG goalkeeper Gregory Coupet with his in-swinging shot from a seemingly impossible angle close to the right-hand corner flag. "It was a free-kick wide of the centre," said Obraniak, who had come on as a substitute for Moussa Sow in the 79th minute.
"I usually aim for the back post. I hit the ball with a bit of dip and it dropped into the side netting. It's all great for me, and for Lille. I'm very happy."
Brazilian striker Tulio de Melo, another second-half substitute, expressed his joy at being able to participate in the team's cup adventure. "They (Lille fans) had been waiting for this final for 56 years," he told the France 3 television station. "Today is the deliverance."
Lille's former mayor, Pierre Mauroy, who was 26 years old when Lille last lifted the cup in 1955, described himself as "very happy with this victory". "It's a reward that goes straight to my heart," he said.