Rennes beat PSG 6-5 on penalties to seal a historic Coupe de France title win on Saturday night.
A pulsating affair at the Stade de France saw PSG race into an early 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Dani Alves and Neymar but Rennes fought back to 2-2 to force extra time.
During the extra half-an-hour, Kylian Mbappe was sent off for a reckless tackle on Damien Da Silva as the two sides cancelled each other out to force the deciding penalty shootout.
But what did we learn from the match?
1. Neymar returns in style
After taking in a nice 45 minutes against Monaco in Ligue 1 last week, Neymar was thrust into the starting line-up as Thomas Tuchel sought to crush Rennes in the Coupe de France final. And that’s exactly what happened, initially.
Wasting no time, Neymar had his first chance to score after just two minutes but was unable to steer home a deep cross from Alves. He soon made up for his mistake, though, pinging a beautifully weighted ball to his compatriot from a corner after 14 minutes, with Alves slamming a volley into Tomas Koubek’s bottom-right corner.
And just seven minutes later, Neymar was running in behind a suicidally high Rennes line, getting on the end of an Angel Di Maria reverse through-ball and chipping over Koubek in ultimate samba style to make it 2-0.
Prior to the game, much of the talk in France had been about whether or not PSG actually need Neymar, with Christophe Dugarry adding that he would like to see the ex-Barcelona man be ‘more like Mbappe’. However, the 27-year-old once again answered his critics in emphatic style. Incredibly, despite missing three months of the season, Neymar is now on 21 club goals this season.
2. Beautiful Brazilians
As mentioned, the combination between Neymar and Alves for the opening was simply sublime. Brazilian brilliance at its beautiful best.
It wasn’t just in either of the first two goals that we saw the best of these two, though. Throughout the game, Neymar was a thorn in Rennes’ side, making a match-high six dribbles, while Alves made two interceptions, including the one which kick-started PSG’s second goal, and constantly sought to break up opposition attacks.
Dani Alves is the first player to score in both the semi-final and Final of the Coupe de France since Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Florian Thauvin in 2015-16.
Another sensational strike. 🚀 pic.twitter.com/P1ajWJJaKE
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 27, 2019
Two very different Brazilians at very different stages of their career. Both having the same, massive effect on the biggest games for the Parisians. If only their teammates had kept things so simple in this one…
3. More bad luck for Kimpembe
With his VAR-awarded handball against Manchester United alone, Presnel Kimpebe has had his fair share of bad luck this season.
And once again on Saturday night, the footballing gods frowned upon the France international in another massive game.
With PSG cruising at 2-0, all they had to do was make it another five minutes to half-time and surely, that was that. However, before that could happen, disaster struck. A strong run from Rennes right-back, Hamari Traore, saw him reach a crossing position.
His dangerous low drive across the PSG box had to be dealt with but unfortunately for Kimpembe, a combination of him racing back toward goal and the pace of the cross saw it diverted beyond Alphonse Areola.
It was another terrible bit of luck but mind you, Kimpembe will be absolutely livid with left-back Juan Bernat for foolishly turning his back and allowing Traore to get into such a dangerous position to kick-start the Rennes fightback.
4. Rennes rally
We all know the narrative in France. PSG storm into an early lead and then pummel their opponent with their relentless firepower. Job done.
Well, Rennes were having none of that on Saturday. Granted, they were incredibly naive in the first half, attempting to go toe-to-toe with PSG and play at their same, breathless speed. Of course, they were duly picked off in the opening stages.
However, Julien Stephan’s side never let their heads drop and Kimpembe’s own goal just before half-time was nothing less than they deserved for their endeavour.
And in the second half, they really took the game to their illustrious opponents, firing shot after shot at Areola and testing the PSG centre-backs with a number of crosses.
They finally got their equaliser in the 68th minute, with Mexer heading home Clement Grenier’s excellent corner. 2-2 and absolutely nobody inside the Stade de France could argue as Rennes forced the unlikely outcome of extra time.
And any chance of Rennes tiring or simply admiring their exploits was dismissed as Les Rouges et Noirs held out for a penalty shootout, scoring all six of their attempts in a 6-5 win. History made.
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5. Mbappe sees red
From his World Cup brilliance last summer to the absurd amount of goals he’s scored this season, Mbappe has been the golden boy of world football over the past year.
Tonight, however, it was not gold in the eyes of the France international, but red.
Kylian Mbappé has now been shown a straight red card in all three domestic competitions in France, all for PSG:
🔴 Coupe de la Ligue
🔴 Ligue 1
🔴 Coupe de France
Not the sort of hat-trick he should be looking to complete. pic.twitter.com/iyXOl8fIXZ
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 27, 2019
With extra time seeping away and Thomas Tuchel’s side staring penalties in the face, Mbappe would probably have been one of the first names on the shootout list for the German tactician.
That reality evaporated right at the death, however, as Mbappe received a straight red card for a terribly high challenge on Rennes’ Da Silva.
Mbappe was closer to hacking his compatriot’s knee off than taking the ball and regardless of whether it was merely mistimed or a result of his frustration at missing a few chances, the 20-year-old fully deserved his dismissal – the third of his club career.
6. Trouble for Tuchel?
PSG’s obsession with the Champions League is notorious, as is their tendency to fail on that particular stage.
However, domestically, success is supposed to be a given. But despite sealing yet another Ligue 1 title, it just hasn’t panned out as it should have done for Tuchel this season.
Out in the Champions League round-of-16 and disposed of by Guingamp in the Coupe de Ligue quarter-finals, Saturday night was a chance for the Parisians to add a little gloss to what has been, by their standards, a poor season.
However, despite racing into a 2-0 lead, PSG allowed Rennes to battle back to 2-2, forcing the game all the way to penalties.
And to compile Tuchel’s misery, Christopher Nkunku, only introduced for the shootout, skied his spot-kick over the bar in sudden death to hand Rennes a first Coupe de France title since 1971. Quite where this leaves Tuchel and his job security will surely become clear over the next few weeks.