Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain cruised into the quarter-finals of the French Cup on Wednesday while striking a psychological blow in their pursuit of the Ligue 1 title, as they beat top-of-the-table Lille 3-0.
It was the perfect response from PSG after their shock weekend home loss to struggling Nantes, which was overshadowed by thefts at the homes of Angel Di Maria and Marquinhos during the match.
In the first of two meetings at the Parc des Princes either side of the international break, the difference was a series of mistakes by Lille at key moments.
“It’s always the same, against Paris it’s in the zones of truth that it counts,” said Lille midfielder Benjamin Andre.
When Angel Di Maria swung a low cross into the near post after nine minutes, Lille defender Tiago Djalo took a wild swing. Goalie Mike Maignan lunged at the deflected ball, only pawing it towards his own goal. Mauro Icardi needed only to gather his wits before rolling into the empty net.
Icardi limped off on 36 minutes to be replaced by Kylian Mbappe, who had started on the bench.
Four minutes later, Mbappe meandered along the edge of the Lille penalty area until Zeki Celik took the bait, stuck out a knee and brought the striker down.
Mbappe smacked the spot-kick into the roof of the net.
Lille had a chance when they won a penalty of their own with 13 minutes to play, after Jeremy Pied’s cross from the byline struck Layvin Kurzawa’s outstretched hand.
Again Lille wavered as Keylor Navas dived to save Yusuf Yazici’s tame penalty.
Three minutes into added time, Djalo, on the halfway line, misjudged a PSG clearance. Mbappe pounced, raced away from the Lille defender and drilled the third past Maignan.
“It’s a deserved victory, we played well,” said PSG defender Alessandro Florenzi. “Everything is not perfect but it is never perfect and we always have things to improve.”
PSG, the defending champions, trail Lille by three points in Ligue 1 and a return date is on the horizon. After PSG visit third-place Lyon on Sunday while Lille host struggling Nimes, the pair meet again at the Parc des Princes on April 3.
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