A finely taken goal by Edinson Cavani sealed a 2-0 win for Paris Saint Germain over Monaco on Wednesday in their French Cup quarter-final and kept alive their hopes of a domestic treble this season.
Cavani’s second-half effort – his 18th goal in all competitions this term – added to David Luiz’s scrappy header – leaves PSG still involved in the Cup, they are in the League Cup final and battling to retain their league title.
They are also tied at 1-1 with Chelsea heading into their Champions League last 16 second leg clash next week.
However, coach Laurent Blanc said that talk of the triple, which would be historic in the French game, was premature.
“Stories about the treble I will leave to others,” said the 49-year-old former France and Bordeaux handler.
“For the moment the only certainty is that we are in the League Cup final.
“We are not in the French Cup final, we are a long way from being crowned champions (they are a point adrift of leaders Lyon) and we are not yet qualified for the Champions League.
“As regards the Chelsea match next week we have a tough game against Lens to come this weekend and one we must win.”
Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim had rested some of his players or left some on the bench and he said that was partly to blame for their loss.
“We always try to win but today was very tough for us,” said the Portuguese handler, whose side lost on penalties to Bastia in the League Cup semi-finals.
“We didn’t have a specialist central defender and that makes life complicated.
“PSG therefore were logical winners.”
PSG were without several first choice players including hardman Italian international midfielder Thiago Motta and the stylish French international Yohan Cabaye while talismanic striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was serving the second match of his two game suspension.
PSG joined fellow Ligue 1 outfit St Etienne – who have not won the trophy since 1977 – who had to come from behind to force a 1-1 drew before eventually prevailing 4-3 on penalties over third tier Boulogne on Tuesday.
The semi-finals line-up will be completed on Thursday when the last two matches take place, including holders Guingamp playing fourth division Concarneau with the Ligue 1 side in a bit of a slump having lost three times last week.
Manolo Gabbiadini’s second-half equaliser gave Cup holders Napoli a 1-1 draw with Lazio and a slight advantage ahead of their Italian Cup semi-final second leg back in Naples in April.
Gabbiadini’s 58th minute goal brought Rafael Benitez’ side back on level terms after German veteran Miroslav Klose had given the hosts the lead 12 minutes before half-time in an entertaining clash between the winners of the last three editions of the competition.
Klose had gone close to breaking the deadlock early in the encounter but his shot had come back off the post.
However, the 36-year-old World Cup winning marksman put the ball in the net for the 2013 Cup winners after being set up by Brazilian star Felipe Anderson.
Napoli, winners of the trophy in 2012 as well as last season, stuck doggedly to their task and the lively Gonzalo Higuain set up Gabbiadini who made no mistake.
Thursday sees the other semi-final first leg clash between defending Serie A champions Juventus and Fiorentina – the two sides beaten by Napoli in their final successes, Juve in 2012 and Fiorentina last term.
Werder Bremen were the biggest casualties of the German Cup’s third round after their 3-1 defeat at Arminia Bielefeld on Wednesday as holders Bayern Munich eased into the quarter-finals.
Bielefeld, who are top of the third division, go into the pot for Sunday’s quarter-final draw after shocking ten-man Bremen as midfielder Manuel Junglas became Arminia’s hero with two goals.
Bremen were reduced to ten men when their captain Clemens Fritz was sent off for a second yellow card on 89 minutes just a quarter of an hour after scoring their consolation goal.
“Bielefeld deserved the win, our body language wasn’t OK, which really annoyed me,” said Bremen’s glum coach Viktor Skripnik, whose side are mid-table in the Bundesliga.
“I used a tough tone at half-time, but as everyone could see, it didn’t help.”
Holders Bayern had no such problems as their full strength side beat second- division Eintracht Braunschweig in Munich, but France winger was lucky not to receive an early red card.
Left-winger Ribery kicked out at Braunschweig right-back Benjamin Kessel after being fouled, but the referee missed the France international’s reaction and booked Kessel instead with six minutes gone.
A superb curling free kick from Austria defender David Alaba and a second-half goal from Germany’s World Cup winner Mario Goetze sealed Bayern’s win, their 14th cup win in succession since losing the 2012 final 5-2 to Dortmund.
Borussia Moenchengladbach booked their last eight berth with a 2-0 win at fourth-division Kickers Offenbach after Germany striker Max Kruse netted a second-half penalty following a handball.
Gladbach’s winger Patrick Herrmann added a second to put the result beyond doubt.
VfL Wolfsburg, who are second in the Bundesliga enjoyed a 2-0 win at RB Leipzig thanks to goals by midfielder Daniel Caligiuri and defender Tim Klose.
On Tuesday, Borussia Dortmund eased to a 2-0 victory at third-division Dynamo Dresden thank to Ciro Immobile’s second-half goals.
The Italy striker pounced on a mistake by Dresden captain Michael Hefele to give Dortmund a 50th-minute lead and lit up a dull third-round tie to put the 2012 cup winners into the last eight.
Immobile then added Dortmund’s second when he fired home a superb cross from Poland winger Jakub Blaszczykowski on 90 minutes.
With the win coming on the back of four straight Bundesliga wins, Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp was relieved to hear Germany winger Marco Reus had only bruised his knee having been helped off in the first-half.
Fellow Champions League side Bayer Leverkusen needed extra-time at home to claim a 2-0 win over second-division Kaiserslautern.
Bundesliga side Hoffenheim enjoyed a 2-0 win at second-division VfR Aalen from Baden-Wuerttemberg.
In the round’s only all-Bundesliga tie, Freiburg ran out 2-1 winners at home to Cologne as Nigeria striker Anthony Ujah’s own goal gave the hosts an early lead before Czech midfielder Vladimir Darida added a second on 19 minutes.
Celtic manager Ronny Deila bemoaned his side’s lack of fight as they slipped to a shock 1-0 defeat to St Johnstone at Celtic Park on Wednesday.
The defending champions headed in to their rearranged fixture hoping to open a formidable nine-point gap over Aberdeen – who they thrashed 4-0 on Sunday – at the top of the table.
But following a bright start it was St Johnstone who grabbed the only goal of the match in the 54th minute thanks to a sumptuous Danny Swanson strike from 25 yards.
It was Celtic’s first domestic defeat of 2015 and ended their run of eight straight victories in the league.
Deila refused to blame Celtic’s gruelling schedule, which has seen them play three games in six days, for the defeat and insisted his side should have performed better.
“Today we had a lack of fight. We just didn’t fight enough,” Delia said.
“We want to win and we realise every time we play in Scotland we are favourites and we should win.
“We have played three games in a very short time and one of those was in Italy. I feel for the boys and I understand it is very tough. But it is disappointing that we lost and didn’t get anything from the game.
“We started the game quite well, got a number of chances but didn’t score. In the end we got too open and didn’t press as a team. Offensively we can’t play through the centre of the park all the time and we have to get much more width in the team and not be too easy to read.
“It is a little bit like the feeling I had when we lost against Hamilton, although we created more chances in that match than tonight.
“It’s not about finding excuses. The performance was not good enough. There were some tired players out there, but we should be better as a unit.”
Celtic now have two weeks off league duty as they prepare to take on Dundee United at Tannadice in Sunday’s Scottish Cup quarter-final before facing the same side at Hampden the following week in the League Cup final.
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Published: March 5, 2015 04:00 AM