Ibrahimovic drives PSG into French Cup semis

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Paris (AFP)

Zlatan Ibrahimovic pulled the strings as Paris Saint Germain cruised into the French Cup semi-finals on Wednesday with a 3-1 away win at Saint Etienne.

The result saw PSG bounce back from their first domestic defeat in a year, a 2-1 league loss at Lyon at the weekend, with goals from Edinson Cavani, Marquinhos and late substitute Lucas.

Ahead of their crucial Champions League return match at Chelsea next week however key midfielder Blaise Matuidi limped off with a thigh injury in the second half.

Paris coach Laurent Blanc had told his players their weekend performance was not good enough and had demanded application, which he seemed happy with afterwards.

"It's difficult to win here. But really it's rare you see a team win so easily at Saint Etienne," he told French television.

"PSG warranted their win. It's an experienced side, and even if they went missing at Lyon they showed up and did a job tonight."

Ibrahimovic carved open the home defence for the opener on 12 minutes with a perfectly weighted pass which his Uruguayan strike partner Cavani ran onto and smacked home with great relish.

The giant Swede was at the heart of the second goal on 35 minutes too when Marquinhos tapped in at the far post after a fine team move, as a vicious cross from Ibrahimovic was flicked on toward the back post by Cavani.

A spirited Saint Etienne, pumped up by 36,000 boisterous fans, hit back when a Valentin Eyserric penalty reduced the arrears to 2-1 just before the break.

PSG were easing out the game when late substitute Lucas dribbled past several defenders and fired home the clincher two minutes into added time.

Defending champions PSG have won the Coupe de France on nine occasions, second only to arch-rivals and ten-time winner Marseille, who play fifth tier Granville on Thursday.

In an all top-flight quarter final earlier Wednesday, Lorient, on the back of two league wins, cruised past Gazalec Ajaccio 3-0.

After first half goals from Romain Philippoteaux and Maxime Barthelme, Pape Paye finished the job with a late strike.

The shock of the evening came when second division Sochaux made the semi-finals when they put an end to top flight Nantes' 16-game unbeaten run.

Nantes had been leading for most of the game before Moussa Sow got an equaliser in the 87th minute to send the game into extra-time.

Substitute Sekou Cissé made it 2-1 against the run of play before Sow sealed the win for the former Peugeot factory side and despite a late consolation from the Brazilian Adryan Socahux are into the final four.

Semi-Finals (April 19-20)

Sochaux v Granville or Marseille

Lorient v Paris Saint Germain