- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Nantes lifted the Coupe de France for the fourth time after a gritty 1-0 win over Nice on Saturday night at the Stade de France.
Skipper Ludovic Blas scored the only goal of the game just after half-time. After the hustle and bustle of the first 45 minutes, the prelude was rather prosaic.
Quentin Merlin tried to swing over a centre from just inside the penalty area but Hicham Boudaoui handled the ball and Stéphanie Fressart - the first woman to referee a Coupe de France final - pointed to the penalty spot.
Blas blasted the kick into the top left hand corner leaving the Nice goalkeeper Marcin Bulka with no chance.
That the strike came so early offered Christophe Galtier's side enough time to work their way back into the final.
Boudaoui was put out of his misery 10 minutes after his offence and replaced with the striker Justin Kluivert.
Just after the hour mark, Galtier sent on Mario Lemina and Bilal Brahimi for Pablo Rosario and Kasper Dolberg respectively.
The fresh legs brought more impetus, possession and menace. As well as control. Nice looked the slicker side even though Nantes' players continued to snap, crackle and pop into their tackles.
The final appeared ripe for a shift. Kluivert's shot after 70 minutes rasped just wide of goalkeeper Alban Lafont's right hand post and a minute later Lafont repelled Amine Gouiri's powerful shot and Nantes defender Andrei Girotto cleared Andy Delort's follow-up off the line.
Despite the pressure, the equaliser failed to materialise to the distress of the Nice fans and the delight of the yellow banks of supporters.
Unsurprisingly the yellow ribbons remained for the presentation of the cup. And they were more disposed to President Emmanuel Macron when he handed the trophy over to Blas.
Just over two hours earlier, the freshly inaugurated leader endured the traditional jeers for the president during the presentation of the players before kick-off.
But the animosity towards the head of state was fleeting. Fans of both sides appeared intent on enjoying a rare big day out.
Nice had been looking to win their first trophy of any shape or size since 1997 and their fourth Coupe de France overall.
Nantes too have been starved of success and latterly more accustomed to fighting for Ligue 1 survival.
But under former player Antoine Kombouaré they have evaded their perennial travails in the relegation zone for mid table solidity.
Lafont told French broadcaster Eurosport: "It's a magnificent achievement.
"The boss said to us at half-time that we'd had a good half and that there shouldn't be any let-up in the second."
After executing Kombouaré's commands to the letter, a grateful city will hail their heroes on Sunday afternoon.
Nantes mayor Johanna Rolland said on social media on Saturday night that she had laid on a town hall reception for the side.
"Thank you to Nantes FC, the directors, the coach and of course the players for this wonderful victory that we've ben able to share in," added Rolland.
Kombouaré, who took over in February 2021 with the side fighting against the drop to Ligue 2, told Eurosport: "This is the best thing that I've achieved in my careers as a player and a coach."
Galtier was munificent in defeat. "Nantes are to be congratulated. They closed down the spaces that we wanted to operate in and they fought for each other more than us. They made it a difficult night for us."
On the back of their success, Nantes will play in next season's Europa League. It will be their first taste of European club competition since playing in the Intertoto Cup in 2004.