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25 Jul 2020

Paris St-German beat ten-man Saint-Etienne in a bad-tempered match to lift the French Cup for the 13th time as their star striker Kylian Mbappe limped off the pitch with an ankle injury. Elsewhere, the EPL announced that the new season will begin on September 12

Paris St-Germain (PSG) overcame an injury to Kylian Mbappe to beat ten-man Saint-Etienne 1-0 and win the French Cup in a game for which some fans were allowed into the Stade de France in Paris on Friday.

This was the first game in France after the league was ended in April because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Neymar opened the scoring in the 14th minute in a fiery first half in which Saint-Etienne captain Loic Perrin was sent off for a bad foul on Mbappe in the 26th minute.

It prompted a melee on the pitch before the injured Mbappe had to go off.

The France forward left the pitch in tears and later returned to the dugout on crutches. He will be a serious doubt for PSG’s Champions League quarterfinal with Atalanta in August.

Neymar’s goal proved enough to seal a 13th French Cup for PSG as the second half played out with few incidents of note, with both sides showing tiredness on their return to competitive action.

PSG were awarded the league title after the season was ended early and this win means they have completed a league and cup double.

However, their hopes of adding League Cup and Champions League success to that have been dented by the injury to Mbappe.

Mbappe had scored six goals in his final four PSG appearances before football was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic in March

With many players struggling to get up to speed after four months without competitive football, Mbappe was one of the most lively players on the pitch in the opening stages. It was his powerful shot that led to the opener as Jessy Moulin spilled the ball at Neymar’s feet for the opener.

PSG were considerably less threatening after Mbappe went off injured and a lengthy absence will be a real blow to the French champions’ hopes of success in Europe, with the 21 year old having scored 29 goals in 33 appearances for PSG this season.

“Everyone is worried. Everyone who saw the foul is worried. Of course I’m worried,” said boss Thomas Tuchel.

“We have to be patient because we don’t have any news. I think he will undergo tests tonight.”

PSG captain Thiago Silva, added: “I hope Kylian is going to recover as quickly as possible because he’s a vital player for us.”

Fewer than 5,000 spectators were permitted at the 80,000-seater venue under stringent health regulations, with fans sitting apart.

French President Emmanuel Macron attended Friday’s final as per tradition.

There will have been particular interest in this tie from clubs across Europe as a limited number of fans were allowed to attend.

England will not have supporters inside stadiums until October at the earliest, but this fixture provided a glimpse of what it could look like in the English Premier League and English Football League once crowds are allowed to return.

The atmosphere was, understandably, considerably more muted than it would be for a cup final in normal times but those in attendance still made themselves heard.

It was a welcome first step in the right direction as football tries to return to some sort of normality.


New EPL, EFL seasons to start on September 12

The 2020-21 English Premier League (EPL) and English Football League (EFL) seasons will start on September 12.

In the top flight, the campaign will end on May 23, while the Championship, League One and League Two seasons will culminate on May 8 and 9.

Next season’s playoff finals will take place on the final weekend in May.

The current EPL season will end on Sunday after it was suspended for three months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The regular Championship season concluded on Wednesday, with the playoffs finishing on August 4.

Last-16 ties in the Europa League – featuring Manchester United and Wolves – resume on August 5, with the final scheduled to take place on August 21.

Remaining Champions League last-16 ties resume from August 7, with Manchester City and Chelsea still in the competition.

The final will take place on August 23.


Henderson named Footballer of the Year

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has won the Football Writers’ Association Men’s Footballer of the Year award.

The 30 year old midfielder, who led Liverpool to their first league title in 30 years this season, received more than a quarter of the votes.

“As grateful as I am I don’t feel like I can accept this on my own,” he said.

“I owe a lot to so many people but none more so than my current team-mates, who have been incredible and deserve this every bit as much as I do.”

Liverpool team mates Virgil van Dijk and Sadio Mane, Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne and Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford also finished in the top five.

On Wednesday Henderson, who is recovering from a knee injury, received the EPL trophy from Reds legend Sir Kenny Dalglish at a near-empty Anfield.

Henderson added: “I accept [the award] on behalf of this whole squad, because without them I’m not in a position to be receiving this honour. These lads have made me a better player – a better leader and a better person.

“If anything I hope those who voted for me did so partly to recognise the entire team’s contribution.”

Henderson also lifted the FIFA Club World Cup trophy for the first time in December.

Off the pitch, Henderson has helped raise money for the NHS as part of the #PlayersTogether initiative.

Arsenal and Netherlands striker Vivianne Miedema was named the Football Writers’ Association Women’s Footballer of Year earlier this month.


(With inputs from BBC Sport)

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