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Monaco scrape through to League Cup semi, Rennes out

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Roni Lopes, right, equalised for Monaco

Monaco goalkeeper Loic Badiashile scored the winning penalty as Thierry Henry’s struggling side edged a marathon shootout against Rennes to reach the French League Cup semi-finals on Wednesday.

The principality club, runners-up in the past two seasons, salvaged a 1-1 draw after normal time thanks to Rony Lopes’ second-half equaliser, before Badiashile’s heroics as he also saved three spot-kicks.

Henry’s young team are floundering in Ligue 1, sitting second-bottom and five points from safety, but managed to keep their coach’s hopes of a first trophy alive at the Stade Louis II.

Monaco were the better side for the majority of an uneventful first half, with Moussa Sylla twice going close, but went into the break a goal down after Benjamin Bourigeaud swept Rennes ahead on the half-hour mark after a clever pass from Hatem Ben Arfa.

Henry was grateful to have Lopes back in the starting line-up for the first time since September 2 after a thigh injury, and the Portuguese forward tapped in Julien Serrano’s low cross to level in the 54th minute.

The 23-year-old scored 17 goals in a breakthrough campaign last season and will be pivotal to Monaco’s hopes of climbing up the Ligue 1 table.

Polish centre-back Kamil Glik came close to winning the tie for the hosts in the 85th minute, but headed narrowly over the crossbar.

Both teams had two penalties saved in the regular shootout, including a dreadful ‘Panenka’ penalty straight at home goalkeeper Badiashile from former Paris Saint-Germain and Newcastle winger Ben Arfa.

Glik and new signing Naldo both missed chances to win the tie for Monaco, but 20-year-old Badiashile slotted home the 22nd spot-kick to send them through after Rennes ‘keeper Tomas Koubek had blazed over.

Monaco join Strasbourg in the semi-final draw after their 2-1 win at Lyon on Tuesday, while runaway league leaders Paris Saint-Germain continue their bid for a sixth straight League Cup later on Wednesday against Guingamp at the Parc des Princes.

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