Angel Di Maria the hero as PSG reach cup semi-finals
Paris Saint-Germain continued their bid for a fifth straight French Cup title. As Angel Di Maria scored twice in a comfortable 3-0 quarter-final win over Dijon at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday.
Di Maria’s eighth-minute lob put the holders ahead. Before adding his second before the half-hour mark. With Thomas Meunier sweeping in a late third.
Thomas Tuchel’s men remain on course for a historic treble, as they also lead Ligue 1 by 17 points with a game in hand and will take a 2-0 advantage over Manchester United into the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie next week.
Head coach Tuchel decided to leave Kylian Mbappe on the bench against a Dijon side languishing in the Ligue 1 relegation zone.
The German singled out the first-half performance of January signing Leandro Paredes for special praise.
“(Paredes) played a very good first half, like the rest of the team,” Tuchel said. “He’s a guy who can make very precise passes. It was his role to set the pace and speed up the passing game.”
The hosts got off to a quick start. With former Stoke City forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting denied only his second goal for the club by Dijon goalkeeper Runar Alex Runarsson.
But PSG did not have to wait long to break the deadlock. As Julian Draxler found Di Maria in space, with the Argentinian making the most of poor positioning by Runarsson to loft the ball into the far corner for his 12th goal of the season.
The former Real Madrid winger made it two in the 28th minute. As he tapped into an empty net after seeing his attempted square pass to Choupo-Moting cut out.
Dijon came agonizingly close to pulling a goal back shortly afterwards. When Julio Tavares rounded home goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon before his effort from the tightest of angles spun out off the inside of the far post.
PSG continued to dominate in the second half with Draxler and Di Maria both going close. But it was full-back Meunier who slotted in Choupo-Moting’s cutback to extend the lead with 13 minutes remaining.
On Wednesday, Lyon takes on Caen as they look for a first major trophy since winning the French Cup in 2012. While Rennes, buoyed by their run to the Europa League last 16, host Orleans.
PSG anticipate Neymar will be back in time for a potential Champions League quarter-final in April. The superstar has been in his native Brazil since February 20 as part of his recovery process. He missed the French club’s 2-0 first leg victory.
“It’s important for us that he comes back to Paris before facing Manchester United. To help us and to support us. I hope that after the game he could start training and help us,” the German said.
“It’s difficult to speak to him because of the time difference. But we write to each other. I know he feels good when he’s in Brazil,” he added.
Next up for Thomas Tuchel’s side is a trip to face Caen on Saturday.
Before they host Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie next Wednesday, 6 March.