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Monday, 8 May, 2000, 06:52 GMT 07:52 UK
Calais robbed by cruel blow

Nantes won the cup for the second year running
Nantes 2-1 Calais

Fourth division amateurs Calais have been denied the French Cup after a highly dubious penalty handed first division Nantes their second straight cup triumph.

I'm very proud of my team, but I congratulate Nantes for their win. See you next year

Calais coach Ladislas Lozano

A valiant performance by the port town's collection of students and shopkeepers saw them snatch a first-half lead thanks to a goal by supermarket shelf-stacker Jerome Dutitre.

Nantes responded with a strike for Antoine Sibierski five minutes after the restart, but they were unable to impose themselves on the plucky part-timers.

In the end, the result turned on referee Claude Colombo's decision to award an injury-time penalty to the professional side.

Calais came within sight of glory

A challenge in the area by Calais defender Fabrice Baron appeared to send striker Alain Caveglia sprawling, but replays showed that the player had taken a highly theatrical dive.

Sibierski made sure of the spot-kick, despite keeper Cedric Schille getting a touch on it.

It was a cruel blow to the first ever fourth division side to make it to the final, and not even a characteristically indomitable late charge in the dying seconds could save them this time.

With Calais players prostrate on the pitch - many of them in tears - Nantes went to receive the acclaim of their fans amid a torrent of boos from the amateur side's supporters.

I'd say there are two winners - Nantes for the result, but also Calais for their spirit

President Chirac

In an admirable gesture of reconciliation, the first division side's captain invited the inconsolable Baron to join him in collecting the Cup and the two players raised the trophy together.

President Jacques Chirac, who was present at this remarkable Stade de France clash, said: "I'd say there are two winners - Nantes for the result, but also Calais for their spirit.

"I'd like to offer Calais my heartfelt congratulations for their sterling showing."

Calais coach Ladislas Lozano put aside his bitter disappointment, saying: "I'm very proud of my team, but I congratulate Nantes for their win. See you next year!"

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See also:

06 May 00 | Football
Calais' impossible dream
13 Apr 00 | Europe
Calais for the cup
07 May 00 | FA Carling Premiership
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Links to other Football stories are at the foot of the page.