Nantes wins its first trophy in 21 years in the Coupe de France final

PARIS (AP) — Nantes won its first trophy in 21 years by winning the Coupe de France final against Nice 1-0 on Saturday at the Stade de France.

Ludovic Blas converted the penalty that gave Nantes a fourth Coupe de France success and first trophy since winning the league in 2001 – the year after winning the cup for the third time.

This victory also earns Nantes a place in the Europa League next season.

After an equal first half and few chances, Nantes were awarded a penalty by referee Stéphanie Frappart just 15 seconds after the break for a handball by midfielder Hicham Boudaoui following a corner. Blas struck confidently past goalkeeper Marcin Bulka.

Nantes coach Antoine Kombouaré has won the trophy twice as a Paris Saint-Germain player, and twice as a coach with PSG in 2010 and now with Nantes.

This is an exceptional turnaround for Nantes under Kombouaré.

The former Nantes centre-back saved the club from relegation amid turmoil last season when angry supporters marched to the training ground to confront the players.

Nantes have just stayed up in a tense promotion-relegation playoff.

PSG replaced Kombouaré in December 2011 when the coach was three points clear at the top of the league, signing a footballing big name in Carlo Ancelotti and then losing the league to unsung Montpellier by three points.

Meanwhile, Nice coach Christophe Galtier missed out again, having twice been runners-up in France as a defender with Marseille in the 1980s.

Nantes players celebrate with the trophy after winning the Coupe de France final soccer match between Nice and Nantes at the Stade de France, in Saint Denis, north of Paris, on Saturday May 7, 2022.

It was one of the last matches in the Nantes yellow jersey for striker Randal Kolo Muani. He will join Europa League runners-up Eintracht Frankfurt next season. The centre-forward was a threat but couldn’t add to his 13 goals this season.

Nice’s vaunted strike force of Andy Delort, Amine Gouiri and Danish striker Kasper Dolberg failed to click, although Delort had a clear shot down the line in the 71st minute. Nice last won the cup in 1997.

In France’s only league game, veteran striker Kevin Gameiro scored for Strasbourg to win at Brest 1-0 and take fifth place. Strasbourg were two points behind Rennes in fourth and the automatic place in the Europa League.

Promoted Toulouse completed the Second Division title by beating Nimes 2-1 at home.

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