Neymar has officially recovered from his now annual foot injury. The Brazilian started for the first time since January 23 and appears to be in full form already, supplying a first-half assist and goal for PSG against Stade Rennes in the Coupe de France final on Saturday in Paris.
But after a horrific tackle from Kylian Mbappé saw the young PSG winger sent off, Rennes won the Coupe de France on penalty kicks, much to the delight of actress Salma Hayek. It was the first trophy since 1971 for Rennes.
SENSATIONNEL ! Le Stade Rennais F.C. remporte sa 3ème @coupedefrance de son histoire aux dépens du Paris SG, l’adversaire le plus coriace de France. ma Doue benniget ! Quel pied ! pic.twitter.com/4EVfu1jZUC— Stade Rennais F.C. (@staderennais) April 27, 2019
Neymar missed about three months with a foot injury suffered against Strasbourg in the Coupe de France second round. PSG was, unsurprisingly, able to get back to the final without Neymar’s services, but Thomas Tuchel was delighted to have his star man back Saturday.
Neymar set up his team’s first goal and scored the second as he appeared to have PSG on track to claim its fifth straight Coupe de France and 13th overall.
Neymar started by setting up his fellow Brazilian Dani Alves for the opener. Vying for his 40th trophy in his career, Alves hit a superb volley from the edge of the 18 off a perfect corner kick from Neymar in the 13th minute.
Neymar made it 2-0 eight minutes later thanks to a defense-splitting pass from Angel di Maria. The pass was good, but Neymar’s finish was even better, chipping Tomas Koubek from the edge of the 18.
But Rennes wasn’t about to go down without a fight.
The underdogs pulled one back before halftime on an own goal from Presnel Kimpembe.
In the 66th minute, Edson Mexer slammed a header past Alphonse Areola to equalize.
Neymar was lively throughout but couldn’t find a way to get PSG back into the lead. He was booed by fans for rolling around on the pitch in apparent agony after taking a studs-up challenge to the top of his foot that probably should have drawn a red card.
The match went into extra time and in the dying minutes PSG was reduced to 10 men after a horrific challenge from Kylian Mbappé. The young World Cup winner lunged in with his studs out, catching Damien Da Silva right below the knee in one of the easiest red-card decisions you’ll see.
The card was the 12th shown in the game, following 11 yellows in a feisty matchup.
Rennes didn’t have enough time to really capitalize on the man advantage as the match went to a penalty kick shootout.
Before the shootout, Koubek appeared to head to the locker room for what was either a bathroom break or a quick study session on the PSG penalty kick takers. It didn’t help; Koubek didn’t really come close to making a save.
Both teams made their first five attempts, including a conversion by Neymar to tie the shootout at 5-5.
But on the sixth attempt, after Ismaïla Sarr converted for Rennes, 21-year-old Christopher Nkunku, a 120th-minute substitute after the Mbappé red card, skied his effort, sending Rennes to the title.
— beIN SPORTS USA (@beINSPORTSUSA) April 27, 2019
The defeat means PSG must settle for just one trophy (Ligue 1) for the first time since the 2012-13 season.
Mexican-American actress Salma Hayek no doubt enjoyed the ending as she was pulling for Rennes. Hayek is married to François-Henri Pinault, a French billionaire and Rennes native.