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Neymar sends PSG to finals

Agence France-Presse

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NEYMAR shoves PSG to French League Cup finals. AFP

REIMS, France (AFP) — Neymar set up the first two goals with curling set pieces as Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) won its French League Cup semifinal 3-0 away to Reims on a chilly Wednesday night.

PSG will face Lyon, which beat Lille on penalties on Tuesday, in the final at the Stade de France on 4 April.

This was PSG’s second cup match in three days and coach Thomas Tuchel continued to shuffle his squad.

Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, who were unused substitutes as PSG won in the French Cup at Lorient on Sunday, started while Mauro Icardi and Angel di Maria who began that game, shivered on the bench on a below-freezing evening in Champagne country.

The home team, lying eight in Ligue 1, 20 points behind PSG, also made changes from its last league game, as coach David Guion reshuffled his midfield.

Neymar set up the first goal for his fellow Brazilian Marquinhos, another star brought back after a coach-enforced rest, after nine minutes.

Marquinhos, playing in central defense and as captain, raced in to meet an outswinging Neymar corner.

He outleaped the static Reims defenders and his powerful downward header had rebounded into the roof of the net before goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic could get close to it.

After 31 minutes, Neymar again aimed for Marquinhos with an in swinging free kick.

When the center-back missed the ball it caught the man marking him, Alaixys Romao, by surprise and he nodded it toward goal where fullback Ghislain Konan sliced the ball into his own net.

Neymar, who produced a combative display, and Mbappe, booked for a late handball, played the full 90 minutes even though the game was settled by the 77th minute.

After 73 minutes, Reims midfielder Marshall Munetsi received a straight red card for scything down Marco Verratti.

Four minutes later, substitute Nianzou Kouassi forced a rebound over the line to put PSG, eliminated in the quarterfinals last year, three up and sure of a place in the final.

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