Saint-Etienne upset Paris Saint-Germain by recording a 5-3 victory on penalties following a scoreless draw with the capital side to progress through to the semifinals of the Coupe de la Ligue in front of a boisterous home crowd at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.
What promised to be an exciting quarterfinal tie proved to be tactical and tight, with the best opportunities falling to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was twice denied by the inspired Stephane Ruffier in the Saint-Etienne goal. Penalties were the inevitable conclusion, and it was the home team who held their nerve, taking advantage of Thiago Silva's saved penalty to progress and defeat PSG for the second time this month.
In common with much of this match, the first half was played in a cagey fashion, with both sides toiling to make any great headway. Occasionally, though, there were bursts of real excitement, with the visitors providing the first of these as Ibrahimovic robbed Moustapha Bayal Sall only to be denied expertly by Ruffier.
At the other end of the field, PSG’s second-string shot-stopper Nicolas Douchez was not given an opportunity to show his skills. Romain Hamouma was a sporadic threat for the home side but failed to find the target with a couple of long-range shots, while the closest Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang came was a header cleared off the line by Clement Chantome.
Ezequiel Lavezzi, meanwhile, continued his improvement for PSG following a slow start to life in the French capital. The industrious Argentina international actually to put the ball in the net during the opening period, yet he had strayed a yard offside in making his run and was correctly flagged as such.
Even into the second half, opportunities remained scarce. Ibrahimovic continued to be frustrated by the home goalkeeper, while Jeremy Menez was similarly foiled after showing nice feet in the box to create space for himself.
Aubameyang spearheaded Saint-Etienne’s rare meaningful attacks, but from another corner kick he volleyed wide, having done well to judge the flight of the ball in the first place.
Extra time brought one glorious chance for Ibrahimovic following a dreadful back pass, but Ruffier showed terrific bravery to muffle the ball at the feet of the Swede, who appeared destined to score despite stretching to reach the ball.
It was justice that man-of-the-match Ruffier was Les Verts’ hero in stoppage time, blocking from Thiago Silva to send his side through as all the home side’s takers scored.