Wednesday night saw the last two teams qualify for the semi-final of the Coupe de la Ligue, with former Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov scoring the opening goal in AS Monaco’s 2-0 win over EA Guingamp.
The goal came only seconds after the away side had a wonderful chance to take the lead. Guingamp midfielder Younousse Sankhare’s shot was fantastically saved by Maarten Stekelenburg, but came back to Sankhare at pace, his subsequent header crashed off the crossbar.
Moments later and the away side were 1-0 down. Yannick Ferreira Carassco made his way down the left flank, cut back on to his right foot and picked out Berbatov at the back post. Jonas Lossl did his best to get a hand to it, but the ball found the far corner.
It was the Bulgarian’s first goal after coming back from a rib injury, taking his tally to six for the season.
Guingamp’s comeback was marred when Christophe Mandanne reacted badly to a challenge by Ricardo Carvalho. The attacker seemed to hit out at the defender when he was on the ground, then pushing the Portuguese international down.
Nicolas Rainville had no choice but to send the striker off. Guingamp tried to create an opening, but created nothing more than a handful of half chances and Monaco would seal the win at the end, Anthony Martial scoring in injury time to seal the 2-0 victory.
In Wednesday’s other Coupe de la Ligue game, Lille beat Nantes by the same score, through goals from Sebastien Corchia and Simon Kjaer. It is the furthest that the northern side have ever gone in the competition and it means that the top three from Ligue 1 last season have all reach the final four.
The semi-finals will see Monaco host SC Bastia at the Stade Louis II and Lille take on Paris Saint-Germain for a place in the April 11th final at the Stade de France.
Although Monaco are still in this season’s Champions League, winning the Coupe de la Ligue could be their best chance of playing European football next season.