PARIS: A tearful Kylian Mbappe limped off with an apparent ankle injury as Paris St Germain beat 10-man St Etienne 1-0 to win the Coupe de France on Friday.
The injury to Mbappe, who returned to the sideline on crutches, took the gloss off a record-extending 13th cup success and raised concerns ahead of PSG’s Champions League quarter-final against Atalanta next month.
St Etienne centre-half Loic Perrin was sent off in the 30th minute for clumsily hacking down Mbappe as he sprinted past, and Mbappe’s right ankle appeared to buckle under him.
“It just cracked a bit,” Mbappe told French President Emmanuel Macron after the final, as PSG players were about to collect their medals. Macron then asked whether anything was broken and Mbappe said “No, I don’t think so.”
Coach Thomas Tuchel faces an anxious wait over the fitness of Mbappe as PSG secured the first of a potential three trophies this summer, with the Coupe de la Ligue final against Olympique Lyonnais to come next Friday before the resumption of their European campaign in Portugal.
“Everyone is worried. Everyone who saw the foul is worried. Of course I’m worried,” said Tuchel. “I’m very happy because we won but we have to stay patient because we don’t have any news.”
The German was also angry with the way St Etienne had played from the start.
“It was complicated with all the fouls to Thilo Kehrer, Neymar and Mbappe. In the last three matches against St Etienne they get a red card in the first 30 minutes. I don’t know what is being said in their dressing room. It is horrible I can’t understand it.”
Perrin was making his last appearance for St Etienne 17 years after his debut and his foul sparked a brief bout of angry shoving between the sides.
Neymar struck PSG’s opening goal from close range in the 14th after goalkeeper Jessy Moulin saved Mbappe’s shot.
It was hard on St Etienne, who hit the post through striker Denis Bouanga early on. Bouanga had a shot well saved by Keylor Navas later in the first half.
But Moulin also had to make a superb one-handed save to keep out Angel Di Maria’s curling strike.
Macron spoke at length with the players before kickoff. A maximum of 5,000 fans were allowed at Stade de France because of coronavirus restrictions, but only 2,805 actually attended.
Ligue 1 champions PSG, who lost last season’s final on penalty kicks, had not played a competitive game since March 11 when they faced Borussia Dortmund in the second leg of the Champions League round of 16.
St Etienne’s previous match was three days earlier in Ligue 1, before it was canceled with 10 rounds remaining on April 30.
Published in Dawn, July 26th, 2020