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By ESPN Staff

PSG salvage their season with French Cup triumph

PARIS, April 29 (Reuters) - Paris St Germain saved their season by downing arch-rivals Olympique Marseille 2-1 in a tense French Cup final at the Stade de France on Saturday.

By lifting the trophy for the seventh time, the Paris club, lying eight in Ligue 1 and out of the race for places in Europe, won a ticket to the UEFA Cup.

While the game itself was virtually free of the ugly scenes that have marred previous encounters between the bitter foes, violent clashes broke out outside the stadium before kickoff. Over 30 people were arrested and at least one person was injured, a spokesman for security said.

Ivory Coast forward Bonaventure Kalou opened the scoring for the Parisians on six minutes, firing under the crossbar from the edge of the box.

France midfielder Vikash Dhorasoo doubled the advantage four minutes into the second half with a powerful effort from 25 metres that left Marseille keeper Fabien Barthez no chance.

Forward Toifilou Maoulida reduced the arrears with an angled shot from inside the area on 67 minutes but Marseille were foiled from adding to their record tally of 10 Cup wins.

The southerners, who are fifth in Ligue 1 and still stand a chance of playing in Europe next season, have failed to win any silverware since their Champions League triumph in 1993.

Matches between the sides from France's two largest cities are always regarded as high risk and have become increasingly tense in recent years.

PSG supporters threw stones at a bus carrying Marseille fans just outside the stadium on the outskirts of Paris and fighting broke out shortly before kickoff.

In a separate incident rivals groups of PSG supporters, some wielding iron bars, fought each other for several minutes before police moved in to stop the trouble, witnesses said.

More than 2,000 police were deployed around the Stade de France for the game between the two rivals, who had never met in a major final.

After conceding an early goal, Marseille, helped by creative midfield play from Franck Ribery, wasted no time to react and confiscated the ball for long spells.

Marseille looked the better side for most of the first half but struggled, however, to breach the Parisians' well-organised defence and created few chances.

They squandered a great opportunity on 18 minutes when striker Mickael Pagis, left unmarked in the box, totally missed his volley.

Marseille kept pushing for an equaliser in the closing stages but PSG held tight, keeper Lionel Letizi making a string of great saves before his captain, Portugal striker Pauleta, could lift the precious trophy to roars of appreciation from the Paris fans.