Fourth division Epinal sprang a French Cup shock on Wednesday, the amateurs from the Vosges mountains knocking out topflight Lille 2-1 to join Paris Saint-Germain, 2-0 winners at Pau, in the quarter-finals.
The come-from-behind upset matched fellow fourth-tier amateur outfit Belfort’s shock defeat of Ligue 1 Montpellier on penalties 24 hours earlier. Loic Remy put Lille into an early lead against the minnows who had ended Reunion islanders’ JS Saint-Pierroise’s dreams of becoming the first team from a French overseas territory to reach the last 16.
And they continued their adventure by hitting back hard in the second half with a double from Jean-Philippe Krasso.
“We were never in the match,” complained Lille coach Christophe Galtier. “You have to congratulate Epinal who deserved this win. We didn’t deserve to get a lot out of the way we played.”
PSG ensured they did not get spellbound by the magic of the Cup at third division Pau.
Neymar stayed in Paris and Kylian Mbappe remained on the bench but the services of the world’s two most expensive footballers weren’t required as captain Leandro Paredes and Pablo Sarabia scored in either half for a drama-free 2-0 win.
“It wasn’t easy, it was our fifth consecutive away game,” said PSG coach Thomas Tuchel. “We made a lot of changes but the lads did really well.”
PSG, beaten in last season’s Cup final, have won the competition a record 12 times, two more than Marseille who host Strasbourg later Wednesday with Nice taking on Lyon.
PSG were denied a 13th title by Rennes and the holders took another step closer to retaining the trophy by edging a nine-goal thriller with top flight Angers 5-4 on Tuesday. Elsewhere Saint Etienne beat Monaco and Ligue 1 strugglers Dijon needed a 119th winner against plucky fifth division amateurs Limonest.