Beric snatches Saint-Etienne a point against Marseille
Robert Beric came off the bench to score an equaliser 15 minutes from time to earn AS Saint-Etienne a 2-2 draw with Olympique de Marseille on Friday and badly dent the visitors' ambitions of a top-two finish.
AS Saint-Etienne 2-2 Olympique de Marseille
Marseille had beaten Saint-Etienne 3-0 just before Christmas, but the hosts — with new signings Neven Subotic and Mathieu Debuchy in the starting line-up — were not only new look, but had new belief after winning their last two.
Still, Marseille had struck 15 goals in their last two competitive outings, including the 9-0 Coupe de France win at Bourg-en-Bresse on Tuesday. That victory had been achieved without the rested Florian Thauvin, who did not take long to remind everyone of the sort of form he is in.
The former SC Bastia and Newcastle United man was waiting at the back post to steer in a sumptious 14th goal of the league campaign, the time and space for the strike afforded by Gabriel Silva's untimely slip on a surface slickened by the constantly falling snow (4').
The Stade Geoffroy Guichard was strangely silenced, but was soon rocking again as the home side levelled. Romain Hamouma's trickery down the left bamboozled Adil Rami, and his cross found Kevin Monnet-Paquet, who drilled home his second league strike of the campaign (9').
Luiz Gustavo fired wide (12') and Valère Germain charged down Stéphane Ruffier's clearance from an underhit Loïc Perrin backpass, seeing the ball ricochet behind when it might have ended up in the unguarded net (16'), before Marseille struck again.
Bouna Sarr continues to impress down the right as a full-back, and he linked up smartly with Thauvin before charging forward to deliver a cross Morgan Sanson volleyed home for a superb eighth of a fruitful campaign (20').
Germain then tested Ruffier at his near post (25') as Marseille sought to extend their advantage, which Romain Hamouma should have wiped out early in the second half. Sliding in to meet Monnet-Paquet's cross, however, he could not keep his effort down (48').
With his side unable to break Marseille down, Saint-Etienne coach Jean-Louis Gasset brought on Beric, and the physical Slovenia international quickly had an impact, barging Sarr aside to chest Jonathan Bamba's deep cross into the net from close range after just four minutes on the pitch (74').
Another substitute, Kostas Mitroglou, who scored a midweek hat-trick, should have put Marseille in front again but scooped over from close range (86') before Stéphane Ruffier leapt to his right to push out a Thauvin effort to preserve a point for Les Verts.
THE PLAYER: Robert Beric
Recalled from his loan spell at Anderlecht in January, the Slovenia international has given Saint-Etienne what they lacked up front: presence. This was his second goal since his return, and the man whose career in France has been ruined by injury so far could prove to be the most valuable winter signing of all.
THE STAT: 9
No player has been involved in more league goals across Europe's five major championships in 2018 than Thauvin, who has scored six and set up three. His six goals have come from just seven shots on target.