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PARIS: Kylian Mbappe returned to the starting lineup and took just 14 minutes to score as Paris Saint-Germain beat Nice 3-1 to reach the French Cup semifinals on Wednesday.

He started the past two league games on the bench as part of coach Luis Enrique’s rotation policy, which most observers accept involves leaving out Mbappe to prepare for next season without him.

Mbappe looked sharp, expertly swapping waist-high passes with midfielder Fabian Ruiz and putting the ball between goalkeeper Marcin Bułka’s legs for his 35th goal of the season. Ten minutes later, Mbappe hit the post with a deflected shot.

PSG have won the trophy a record 14 times — but not since 2021 — and faced a Nice team that is the only one to beat PSG in the league this season.

Bułka made an awful blunder for the second goal, botching a clearance and spinning around unaware of where the ball was landing. Ruiz profited to roll it into an empty net in the 33rd.

But PSG’s defense remains vulnerable, as it has been for several years.

Nice pulled a goal back four minutes later when striker Gaetan Laborde — who scored in September when Nice won in Paris — was unmarked on the right of the penalty area and guided a low half-volley into the left corner.

Winger Jeremie Boga and right back Jordan Lotomba missed chances for Nice early into the second half as PSG’s midfield struggled. Nice were punished in the 60th when central defender Lucas Beraldo headed in a cross inadvertently flicked on by Nice defender Dante, who was trying to clear the ball.

The semifinals pit second-tier Valenciennes against Lyon on April 2. PSG will host Rennes the next day.

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