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Neymar boots PSG into French semis

Reuters

Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal on Wednesday in French League Cup action.

AFPPARIS (AFP-Jiji) — Neymar scored a second-half penalty as four-time defending-champion Paris Saint-Germain toiled before overcoming 10-man Amiens 2-0 to reach the semifinals of the French League Cup on Wednesday.

PSG were again without leading scorer Edinson Cavani, who also missed Sunday’s French Cup rout of Rennes after returning late from his Christmas and New Year break in Uruguay.

Amiens’ hopes of springing an upset were heavily undermined by the dismissal of goalkeeper Regis Gurtner on 34 minutes for a foul on Kylian Mbappe after charging out of his area.

And Neymar eventually made the visitors’ numerical advantage count by winning and converting a spot kick 8 minutes into the second half at the Stade de la Licorne.

Mbappe, earlier denied by a fingertip save from Jean-Christophe Bouet, was then thwarted by a combination of the substitute keeper and the crossbar before firing another effort narrowly wide.

Marquinhos also struck the woodwork after connecting with a cross from Giovani Lo Celso, but Adrien Rabiot wrapped up a remarkable 35th consecutive win in domestic cup ties for PSG with a glancing header from an Angel Di Maria corner on 78 minutes.

The goal was given following consultation with the video assistant referee (VAR) — being used for the rest of the competition as a test ahead of its expected arrival in Ligue 1 next season — after goal-line technology failed to award it.

“Our team worked hard but we didn’t shine like on Sunday, but we also didn’t concede chances. It was easier to win because we played with an extra man,” said PSG coach Unai Emery.

PSG will travel to Rennes, who they thrashed 6-1 in the last 64 of the French Cup, in the semifinals at the end of the month, with Monaco set to host Montpellier in the other last-four tie.

“All teams prefer to play at home. But we will make another trip to Rennes full of desire to reach the final and win the title,” Emery added.

Leganes ends 89-year drought

MADRID (AFP-Jiji) — Leganes, a modest club from the Madrid suburbs, reached the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey for the first time in their 89-year existence on Wednesday.

Despite losing 2-1 at Villarreal, which is currently sixth in La Liga, Leganes progressed on away goals having won the first leg 1-0.

Moroccan international Nabil El Zhar scored the crucial away goal for mid-table Leganes on the half-hour mark.

In the night’s other early second leg tie, last season’s runner-up Alaves downed third-division Formentera 2-0 for a 5-1 aggregate win.

Zidane gets extension

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane on Wednesday confirmed that he has signed a contract extension which will keep him at the European champions until 2020.

“It’s signed,” said the French star after his side drew 2-2 with Numancia to progress to the quarter-finals of the Spanish King’s Cup 5-2 on aggregate.

After a dream start at Real, with eight trophies out of a possible 10, Zidane has endured a tough season with his side 16 points behind Barcelona in the La Liga title race.

And the 45-year-old cautioned: “I’m enjoying what I do every day, because that’s the way it is. I can’t imagine myself as a coach in two, three years, because things are not like that.

“I know how it goes, nothing more, even with this contract it does not change anything.”Speech

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