The French league cup is one of the minor trophies to win each season. A chance for Paris FC to demonstrate their capabilities against Metz.
A chilly Wednesday evening at the Stade Charléty where Paris FC was hosting FC Metz in the league cup. The ground was not even half full which is a sign of the popularity of the competition. Interestingly, there were two groups of Ultras supporting the home team, at least creating some atmosphere among the tardy Parisian crowd. There were surprisingly many kids present, given temperatures around 15° and a mid-week game.
The started slow, in fact so slow that there was no choice but to think both teams had already settled for a draw and penalties. That is one major difference to the league cup in England. If the match is drawn after 90 minutes, there will be no extra time but penalties immediately, thus saving the crowd and the players of sitting out a boring half hour.
Before this would happen however, the 90 minutes had to be played first. It took 20 minutes for either team to be warmed up sufficiently as to be able to enliven the game to an extent that it would not resemble slow motion replay. When both sets of Paris Ultras decided to chant together, the game became livelier than it has been before but no chances or saves were produced on either side of the pitch.
With half time approaching fast, everyone appeared to have settled for a 0-0 when suddenly Paris FC won a corner from the right. The ball flew into the area where a head prolonged it to the far post. It was the Gaboon international Missi who put the ball away into the far corner. No chance for the keeper to save it. Normally, a game of football would come alive after such a situation. Not so here. Neither team did more than necessary in order to see out the first half.
The goal was a surprise as it was the first real action of the hosts that showed purpose and immediately it brought rewards and caused Metz some headache.
The second half saw a better start which was not difficult as the first half was just a tiring affair. Not so now. Metz needed to work harder and they did, though little was their reward as the Parisian defense held. Though one could feel a goal coming. Just at which side was not clear as Paris pushed forward and had a clear header that was just wide. It would have presented Metz a mountain to climb and in their condition they looked as though they were content with crawling across a plain.
The goal that was in the air came in the 65 minute. A disarray in the Paris defense and Nguette had no difficulties to finish from close range. This sparked a period where one thought Metz will now take their opponents apart. Within minutes they could have had another two goals but for their laziness in passing or for prowess of the Paris keeper who demonstrated some great moves to deny Metz repeatedly in this short frenzy.
The best scene of the match came just after this lively period. The protagonists were the Parisian keeper and a Metz forward. The latter received the ball in the area, controlled it, turned around and shot only to be denied superbly by the shot stopper. That was all the game had to offer in terms of highlights. Paris somehow survived the mounting pressure from Metz yet could not exploit the space in midfield for their own ends.
Penalties. It was a relief as the temperatures dropped and it became uncomfortably chilly. There were some good penalties, some cheeky ones and one unlucky one. The last kick from Paris. He miss hit the ball enabling the keeper to save it and winning the game for Metz.
How to judge the game? Paris played to their capabilities as did Metz. Last season both teams were in the same division, though each ended at the other of the table. Paris went down and find themselves in another relegation battle while Metz sit in Ligue relatively save but their objective can only be survival in the top division. Nonetheless an interesting game that was boring for large parts but also offered some highlights and finished 6-7 for the visitors. Not flattering for either side.