Edinson Cavani the hero as Paris
Saint-Germain wrap up historic treble
Paris Saint-Germain became the first French football club in history to complete a domestic clean sweep when they beat brave AJ Auxerre 1-0 on Saturday to lift the Coupe de France. Prior to the victory, no team had ever managed to lift the Ligue 1, Coupe de la Ligue and Coupe de France trophies in one season.
It was not pretty, but Edinson Cavani's powerful header in the second half was ultimately enough for Laurent Blanc's men to seal the win and complete the historic feat. Auxerre goalkeeper Donovan Leon had done his best to keep Les Parisiens at bay at Stade de France, but the French Guiana international was unable to keep out El Matador's 65th-minute effort.
Cavani finished his season with another important goal and kept up his impressive scoring record at the national stadium, adding to the braces he has managed in PSG's back-to-back Coupe de la Ligue final successes. The Uruguay international will now head off for this summer's Copa America in lethal form and with a sense of accomplishment after netting 13 goals in the last nine domestic fixtures of the campaign.
The capital club struggled in front of goal over the 90 minutes, and when they did create something, Leon was waiting to thwart Cavani, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and their teammates. On the occasion that the Auxerre netminder was beaten, a well-struck Thiago Motta effort from distance came crashing back off the post.
It took an inch-perfect cross from the impressive Gregory van der Wiel to provide Cavani with the decisive goal. Leon was unlucky to see the ball hit him on its way in off the bar, but the PSG No. 9's header was so well-placed and powerful that there was no way he was stopping it.
Blanc will be happy that his team also ended their season with a clean sheet, but the truth is that Auxerre were unable to muster much going forward to seriously test their back line. Had the Burgundy side possessed a little greater quality in attack, then perhaps they would have pulled off a famous shock win.
As it was, PSG won, but the victory demonstrated more negatives than positives. Ibrahimovic's performance was disappointing, with the Swede cutting a frustrated figure up top, while the midfield trio of Motta, Marco Verratti and Blaise Matuidi was strangely subdued until later in the game.
However, the main thing that the Coupe de France final illustrated is just how badly the French capital outfit now miss Javier Pastore when he is unavailable.
Without the Argentina international, who was suspended after drawing an unfair yellow card in the penultimate game of the season at Montpellier HSC, PSG was sluggish and predictable in attack.
El Flaco's form had reached such a point by the end of the campaign that the South American was slicing open defences on multiple occasions during games. However, the French champions failed to do that at all in this game and could only find the net through a more direct approach.
Pastore is once again a key player after a few seasons on the fringes of the starting XI, but now his influence is not even limited by the presence of Ibrahimovic in the same team. The Swede likes to drop deep, as he did often against Auxerre, but it was the talismanic striker who looked as if he missed Pastore, and not the other way around, as it used to be.
Overall, it was a disappointing PSG performance considering what was at stake. However, instead of totally placing the emphasis on the winners' below-par showing, plenty of credit must be given to the runners-up.
Jean-Luc Vannuchi's men made the most of what they had available to them and fought bravely for the full 90 minutes, executing their coach's game plan to near perfection. L'AJA frustrated Blanc's side and showed more desire than them for much of the encounter and belied their ninth-place finish in Ligue 2 with a dignified display.
At the end of the day, though, it was only winning that mattered to PSG, and they came away with the victory and the Coupe de France trophy to complete their collection this season and add the only missing piece of French silverware to their Qatari owners' trophy cabinet.
This season was not always easy for Les Parisiens, and they toiled for large parts of the campaign. However, ultimately their quality shone through and this PSG side go into the record books as the first team in French football history to remain consistent enough across all domestic fronts to end the term successful in all of them.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.