Lowly Nimes snatch French Cup semi-final berth

21st April 2005, Comments 0 comments

NIMES, France, April 20 (AFP) - Third-division Nimes beat first division Sochaux 4-3 after extra time in another giant-killing victory to move into the semi-finals of the French Cup on Wednesday.

NIMES, France, April 20 (AFP) - Third-division Nimes beat first division Sochaux 4-3 after extra time in another giant-killing victory to move into the semi-finals of the French Cup on Wednesday.

Nimes, who have already beaten first division St Etienne, Ajaccio and Nice in this year's competition, proved once again they could live with top flight teams in a seven-goal spree.

Now Nimes are approaching possible European competition once again. In 1996, they lost to double winners Auxerre in the French Cup final to qualify for the now defunct European Cup Winners Cup, even beating Hungarians Kispest Honved in the first round before losing to AIK of Sweden.

Nimes' victory over Sochaux was even more dramatic as they were trailing 3-1 with little more than half an hour to go.

Ulrick Chavas had got the ball rolling to put Nimes into the lead on 22 minutes in a festival atmosphere at their Costieres stadium. However two goals from Togolese striker Kader by the break and a 56th minute effort from Brazilian Araujo Ilan had put the visitors 3-1 ahead.

Kader might have scored another in the 63rd minute but his attempted lob sailed over the crossbar.

Six minutes later, Nimes coach Didier Olle-Nicolle made a triple substitution which marked the beginning of their successful fightback - Moise Kande, Marc Zanotti and Dramane Coulibaly came on for Sabri Khelfa, Ulrick Chavas and Stephane Beyrac.

Eloge Enza Yamissi fired home a powerful shot in the 72nd minute and the stadium erupted when substitute Kande headed home the equaliser, from a Julien Benhamou corner, five minutes later.

Kader missed a match-winning goal for Sochaux in the second minute of injury time when he got round Nimes keeper Cedric Duchesne to have the goal at his mercy but managed to shoot into the side netting.

Mathias Verschave was Nimes' matchwinner with a cross-cum-shot in the 15th minute of extra time to spark off celebrations among the Nimes contingent.

Olle-Nicolle said afterwards: "It was a magical, fantastic moment. We managed to turn the tables in magical fashion, showing superb ability and fighting spirit.

"When the three players came on, it gave the match a new dimension. We really performed well late in the game and I'm proud of my team."

Guy Lacombe, the Sochaux coach said: "Well, that's the charm of the Cup.

It's difficult for the coach who loses but fabulous for the winning team. We did not react as we should have following their second goal and paid the price."

In Wednesday's late match, fourth division Boulogne-sur-mer pushed topflight Auxerre hard but Guy roux's men eventually prevailed 2-1 to join Nimes, Monaco and Sedan in the last four.

On Tuesday night, Sedan beat Grenoble 2-1 and Monaco earned a 1-0 victory over Clermont after extra time.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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