Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Angel Di Maria (R) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal during the French League Cup round of 16 football match between Strasbourg (RCSA) and Paris-Saint-Germain (PSG) on December 13, 2017 at the Meinau stadium in Strasbourg, eastern France. / AFP PHOTO / FREDERICK FLORIN
Paris Saint-Germain brushed off the absence of Neymar to ease into the French League Cup quarter-finals with a 4-2 victory at Strasbourg on Wednesday.
The Ligue 1 leaders gained a measure of revenge for their shock 2-1 league defeat by Strasbourg less than a fortnight ago as they started their bid for a fifth straight League Cup title.
PSG will take on Amiens in the last eight, after the newly-promoted top-flight club edged out second-tier Tours 2-1.
“We needed to improve from the league game and the team was more focused from the start,” said PSG coach Unai Emery.
“Maybe we could have scored more goals and played better after it went to 4-2, but we are still happy.”
With Neymar having only just returned from a visit to his native Brazil, Emery opted to play Edinson Cavani up front on his own with Kylian Mbappe on the bench.
Home hopes of a repeat performance for Strasbourg were dashed in only the 12th minute, as Yoann Salmier sliced Angel Di Maria’s cross into his own net.
Argentina international Di Maria made it two midway through the first half, capitalising on a goalkeeping error by Alexandre Oukidja to slot in his fourth goal of the season.
But Strasbourg pulled one back before half-time against the run of play as midfielder Jeremy Grimm, who has been with the club throughout their rise from the third tier, slotted into the corner.
The hosts battled hard in the second period but their resistance was finally ended when Thomas Meunier crossed for fellow full-back Dani Alves to tap in from close range.
German international Julian Draxler impressed in a three-man attacking midfield alongside Di Maria and Javier Pastore, and drilled in to end a nine-game goal drought for club and country.
Jeremy Blayac came off the bench to score a late consolation for Strasbourg, but PSG had long since secured their place in the quarters.
Elsewhere, a much-changed Lyon were stunned 4-1 at Montpellier despite taking a 10th-minute lead through teenager Myziane Maolida, as Souleymane Camara scored twice for the hosts.
Nice goalkeeper Yoan Cardinale was the hero as Lucien Favre’s men edged past managerless Lille on penalties after Mario Balotelli had rescued the a 1-1 draw for the visitors.
Monaco will be Nice’s last-eight opponents, after the principality outfit saw off Caen on Tuesday.
Rennes beat Marseille in a penalty shootout after an entertaining 2-2 draw at Roazhon Park, where Kostas Mitroglou and Valere Germain scored for the visitors, but to no avail.
Quarter-final draw (ties to be played January 9/10):
Angers v Montpellier, Amiens v Paris Saint-Germain, Nice v Monaco, Rennes v Toulouse