Verratti scores rare goal as PSG reaches French Cup final
PARIS (AP) — A rare goal from Marco Verratti combined with strikes from Kylian Mbappe and Daniel Alves helped Paris Saint-Germain advance to the French Cup final for the fifth consecutive year with a 3-0 win over Nantes on Wednesday.
Without the injured Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Angel Di Maria, Verratti broke the deadlock near the half-hour mark with a right-foot shot from Mbappe’s pass on the edge of the box. It was Verratti’s first club goal this season, and came after his recent goal against Liechtenstein that ended a six-year scoring drought with Italy’s national team.
Verratti has now scored two goals in his last three games in all competitions after failing to score any in his previous 58 matches.
Mbappe missed a penalty in the 66th minute after being asked to retake his kick by the referee, but the PSG star made no mistake in the 83rd after Alves was fouled in the box. Mbappe — the league’s top scorer — made it 2-0 with a low and precise shot for his 17th goal in 18 matches this year.
Alves capped PSG’s win in stoppage time with a lob into the top left corner.
PSG has won the French Cup a record 12 times, including the past four years. The club will be up against Rennes in the April 27 final. The Brittany side, which won the trophy in 1971, beat Lyon 3-2 in the other semifinal on Tuesday.
Taking on struggling Guingamp in a rescheduled French League game, Montpellier ended a poor run at home with a 2-0 win as midfielder Mihailo Ristic scored his first goal for the southern side.
Montpellier had not won at the La Mosson stadium since Jan. 27. Since then, Michel Der Zakarian’s players had drawn twice lost once at their home ground.
“We lost many points at home, we needed a win tonight,” Montpellier captain Vitorino Hilton said.
After conceding at least one goal in its previous five games, Montpellier rediscovered its defensive stability, which has been a trademark of the team over the past two years.
Striker Andy Delort opened the scoring in the 22nd minute from Hilton’s pass for his 11th goal this season and Ristic completed the win 11 minutes from time. Ristic joined Montpellier in January and started only his second French league game.
Montpellier moved to seventh in the standings while Guingamp, which lost the League Cup final to Strasbourg last weekend, remained in the relegation zone.
Strasbourg celebrated its title with another win, a 4-0 rout of sixth-place Reims punctuated by Anthony Goncalves’ double. It was Reims’ first loss in 14 matches.