Toulouse earns first trophy in French Cup final thumping
SAINT-DENIS, France (AP) — Toulouse showed no stage fright in its first French Cup final, blitzing holder Nantes in the opening minutes to lift its first trophy after an impressive 5-1 victory on Saturday.
Logan Costa was the unexpected star at Stade de France. The center back played only three games in the French league this season but gave Toulouse a quick 2-0 lead. Thijs Dallinga also scored twice to give them a four-goal cushion by halftime.
The triumph is the result of a data-driven strategy for a club operating with a small budget and that was still playing in the second division a year ago.
The French Cup also earned Toulouse a spot in the Europa League next season. But Toulouse might not be able to use it because of UEFA rules. American investment firm RedBird Capital Partners is the majority owner of Toulouse and Italian club AC Milan.
According to Article 5 of the UEFA general provisions, "no individual or legal entity may have control or influence over more than one club participating in a UEFA club competition."
Toulouse proved again to be a stumbling block for Nantes coach Antoine Kombouare. Kombouare was sacked as Toulouse coach in the middle of the 2019-20 season after a 10-game losing streak in all competitions.
Costa opened the scoring in the fourth minute by outjumping Andrei Girotto to head in a corner from Branco van den Boomen. Six minutes later, Stijn Spierings redirected a free kick from Van den Boomen toward Costa, who added number two with a header.
Dutch striker Dallinga chased a long ball from Gabriel Suazo to lob goalkeeper Alban Lafont in the 23rd. Dallinga then converted a rebound in the 31st after Lafont saved an angled shot from Fares Chaibi.
Nantes had an opportunity in the 12th, but Suazo cleared Mostafa Mohamed's deflected effort off the line.
Out of frustration, some Nantes players made bad fouls. Joao Victor received a yellow card in the 26th for pulling back Zakaria Aboukhlal. Nicolas Pallois also was booked for a poor tackle on Aboukhlal in the 38th.
Nantes midfielder Ludovic Blas bagged a consolation goal from a penalty in the 75th after Rasmus Nicolaisen tripped Fabien Centonze. Blas, who scored the lone goal in the semifinal win over Lyon this month as well as in the final against Nice last year, was otherwise anonymous for most of the final.
Aboukhlal sealed the emphatic win with a powerful strike into the roof of the net in the 79th.
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The Associated Press