Nantes returned to the Coupe de France final for the first time since 1999-2000 after Monaco’s big names failed from 12 yards in a 4-2 shoot-out reverse on Wednesday.
Les Canaris have not played in French football’s showpiece match since winning the cup in consecutive seasons at the turn of the century, but they can now look ahead to a date with Nice.
Poor defending at both ends had seen Nantes and Monaco play out a 2-2 draw at the Beaujoire, with Guillermo Maripan and Myron Boadu scoring headers either side of two home goals – Djibril Sidibe’s first-half own goal and then a scrappy Samuel Moutoussamy strike.
The tie was therefore settled on penalties, and Wissam Ben Yedder was denied by Remy Descamps before Aurelien Tchouameni missed the target to give Nantes a two-goal advantage they would not cede.
— Coupe de France (@coupedefrance) March 2, 2022
Until that point, both sides had found swift responses after trailing.
Maripan flicked a fine header past Descamps from Vanderson’s free-kick but was then beaten by Randal Kolo Muani’s pace and trickery in defence, allowing the forward to square for the despairing Sidibe to divert the ball into his own net.
There were nine minutes between those two goals, yet Nantes later led for just 98 second-half seconds.
Moses Simon moved to the right, where Kolo Muani had found such joy, beat Maripan and crossed again towards Sidibe, who could not clear, and Moutoussamy swept in.
Straight back up the other end, Boadu was all alone from another Vanderson cross and spot-kicks beckoned. For Monaco, who chose to go first, there would be no recovering after Descamps saved superbly from Ben Yedder.
What does it mean? Nantes glory within reach again
Nantes have won 15 major honours, but the last of them was the 2001 Trophee des Champions. That victory over Strasbourg – following their eighth Ligue 1 triumph – brought down the curtain on their last great era.
But the club’s fans are dreaming again, spilling onto the pitch at the conclusion of the shoot-out to celebrate with their heroes before turning their attention towards securing tickets for the big May 8 date with Nice at the Stade de France.
Kolo Muani has completed 39 dribbles in Ligue 1 this season – exactly the same number as both Lionel Messi and Neymar. However, where those two superstars rely on close control to beat defenders, sheer speed is the name of the game for the Nantes man. That spelled trouble for Maripan.
Benoit Badiashile would usually line up on the left side for Monaco but has been out with injury since facing Nantes in the league in January. Maripan, on his wrong side and lacking the same athleticism, was horribly exposed – directly dribbled past twice – and scarcely improved up against Simon.
Nantes had not conceded outside of shoot-outs in their cup run to this point, so Descamps would have been furious with the ease with which Monaco were gifted their goals. The home side struggled to defend crosses throughout, with five of Monaco’s 12 attempts coming from headers.
But Descamps bailed his defence out in the shoot-out, stealing the momentum by saving from Ben Yedder. His stop in the round-of-64 shoot-out against Sochaux had kickstarted this cup campaign.
Seventh-placed Nantes still have European hopes in Ligue 1 and face Montpellier on Sunday; Monaco, a point back and visiting Marseille, also have plenty to play for.
But Antoine Kombouare’s men can play the rest of the season knowing they have a final to look forward to at the end of it.
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