Nantes’ earns first trophy in 21 years in French Cup final
PARIS (AP) — Nantes earned its first trophy in 21 years when it won the French Cup final against Nice 1-0 on Saturday at the Stade de France.
Ludovic Blas converted the penalty that lifted Nantes to a fourth French Cup success and first trophy since the league title in 2001 — the year after it won the cup for the third time.
This victory also earned Nantes a place in the Europa League next season.
After an even first half of few chances, Nantes was awarded a penalty by referee Stephanie Frappart just 15 seconds after the break for a handball by midfielder Hicham Boudaoui following a corner. Blas smacked it confidently past goalkeeper Marcin Bulka.
Nantes coach Antoine Kombouare has won the trophy twice as a player for Paris Saint-Germain, and twice as a coach with PSG in 2010 and now Nantes.
It has been an exceptional turnaround for Nantes under Kombouare.
The former Nantes central defender saved the club from relegation amid turmoil last season, when angry fans marched to the training ground to confront players.
Nantes just stayed up in a tense promotion-relegation playoff.
PSG replaced Kombouare in December 2011 despite the coach being three points clear at the top of the league, hiring a big soccer name in Carlo Ancelotti and then losing the league to unheralded Montpellier by three points.
Meanwhile, Nice coach Christophe Galtier missed out again, having twice been a French Cup runner-up as a defender with Marseille in the 1980s.
It was one of the last games in the yellow jersey of Nantes for striker Randal Kolo Muani. He is joining Europa League finalist Eintracht Frankfurt next season. The center forward was a threat but couldn’t add to his 13 goals this season.
Nice’s vaunted strike force of Andy Delort, Amine Gouiri and Denmark striker Kasper Dolberg failed to click, although Delort had a shot cleared off the line in the 71st minute. Nice last won the cup in 1997.
In the only French league match, veteran striker Kevin Gameiro scored for Strasbourg to win at Brest 1-0 and move into fifth place. Strasbourg was two points behind Rennes in fourth and the automatic Europa League spot.
Promoted Toulouse wrapped up the second division title by beating Nimes 2-1 at home.
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