Late goals help PSG beat 3rd-tier Châteauroux in French Cup

PARIS (AP) — Paris Saint-Germain needed two late goals to scrape a 3-1 win at third-tier Châteauroux in the French Cup round of 64 on Friday.

PSG coach Christophe Galtier rested star forwards Kylian Mbappé, Neymar and Lionel Messi yet still started with seven international players against a side sitting in a lowly 14th place in the third division.

PSG has won the cup a record 14 times but was knocked out in the round of 16 last season.

With no extra time in the early rounds, Châteauroux was getting on top of the game and a penalty shootout loomed.

But PSG midfielder Carlos Soler pounced from close range in the 78th minute, and left back Juan Bernat ensured victory with a neat finish in stoppage time.

Galtier hinted at some complacency within his team.

“Imagine if we hadn’t qualified. At one stage our team was split in half and that gave them confidence,” Galtier said. “Did we think things would be easy once we took the lead? Perhaps.”

Galtier picked three teenagers: 16-year-old Warren Zaïre-Emery started in midfield alongside 18-year-old Ismaël Gharbi, with 17-year-old El Chadaille Bitshiabu in central defense.

The match started well enough for PSG when Gharbi threaded a neat pass for striker Hugo Ekitiké to score in the 13th.

But poor defending gifted Châteauroux an equalizer in the 37th, when veteran forward Nolan Roux’s cross from the left caused panic and Bitshiabu deflected the loose ball past goalkeeper Keylor Navas. Roux nearly scored moments later with a speculative shot just past the post, with Navas stranded.

There was an upset elsewhere as second-tier Pau beat first-division Montpellier 2-1 at home.

Meanwhile, Angers beat Strasbourg on penalties in an all-first division game after a 0-0 draw.

In all-second division encounters, Paris FC beat Valenciennes 3-1 at home and Grenoble won against visiting Nimes 1-0.

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