In the event Lyon Duchere played a part in creating the story for the quarter-finals of the Coupe de France, but not in the fashion we would have wished. Away to Vitre of National 2, the regional fourth divisions a league below them, it all began very well. After 22 minutes Duchere were 2-0 ahead courtesy of a brace from Jonathan Rivas. But Vitre pulled on back after 32 minutes and just before half-time drew level with what was described as a ‘superb free-kick’ (I’m going to have to wait a little for the highlights).
I’m guessing it was a tense affair through a goalless second half. But in the third minute of stoppage time, with extra-time looming, Vitre were apparently awarded a penalty. Awful decision obviously (apparently there’s talk in the local papers about Duchere having been robbed). And with what must have been just about the last kick of the match Vitre converted it to take their place in the last eight. Cue delirium in Brittany, despair in this part of the Auvergne-Rhone-Alps.
So in the quarter-finals Vitre will line up alongside six teams from France’s top-flight (including PSG, who were taken to extra time by Villefranche but came through, and probably Olympique Lyonnais, who play tonight). Orleans from the second division will also be there, but depending on the draw of course it’s reasonable to assume that it will be Vitre attracting the underdog attention. Just a pity it’s not Duchere, who return to the bread-and-butter of league football at the weekend. C’est la vie.
We don’t need reminding what happened to Les Herbiers last season: in the same division as Duchere they made it to the cup final and held out for some time against PSG but having focused on that ended up getting relegated on the final day due to an unlikely combination of results in a tight league. Only a remote risk for Duchere but after their match last Friday was cancelled – apparently by a town official to avoid excessive damage to the pitch but a cynic might speculate on the need to rest up before the cup game – they’ve slipped to ninth in the 18-strong league. Still a 10-points cushion above the bottom four (with the same gap to the play-off place) but would be good to get going again and on Saturday they are away at bottom-placed Drancy, who have amassed 10 points from 19 games (including a 4-0 drubbing at Duchere).
So anything less than a win for Duchere at the weekend would be a cause for concern. I just knew there was a link with Charlton in there somewhere.