Green machine held in Ajaccio
By S. Willis
Honours were even in Corsica as Ajaccio and Saint-Etienne drew 0-0 on Friday night, Les Verts unusually toothless in attack and Ajaccio's Frédéric Sammaritano missing a golden chance to secure a precious win at the death.
AC Ajaccio 0 - 0 AS Saint-Etienne
Saint-Etienne may have extended their unbeaten run to thirteen matches in all competitions, but Christophe Galtier's men also missed a chance to go back into the provisional league lead as they played out an entertaining 0-0 draw at the Stade François-Coty on Friday.
Three points go begging
With top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang out injured, Les Verts struggled to convert their dominance - which was considerable - into scoring chances, and they were almost made to pay dearly with just a minute remaining. However, after receiving a perfect cut-back from Eduardo, Frédéric Sammaritano fluffed his lines and skewed his six-metre shot wide to the disappointment of the home coach and fans, who last saw their side score a goal all the way back in Week 7.
Nonetheless, that Ajaccio were in a position to clinch it at the death goes very much to their credit. Alex Dupont's men defended fiercely for the full 90 minutes, stymieing the best efforts of Romain Hamouma, Max-Alain Gradel and Brandao - who went off injured - and doing what no other side has managed this season in preventing Saint-Etienne from scoring in an away fixture.
Not that Sainté weren't trying - Hamouma saw his point-blank shot cleared off the line by Carl Medjani (22') and Gradel's shot grazed the post, both with Guillermo Ochoa beaten (35'). Despite going all-out to stay solid at the back, Ajaccio gave as good as they got in attack, with Moroccan international Chahir Belghazouani forcing Steephane Ruffier into a save with his foot (12') and Adrian Mutu hitting the woodwork with his header (14').
With so much attacking football on display, the final scoreline was something of a surprise but few would have complained that the match wasn't entertaining. Nonetheless, Ajaccio will be ruing Sammaritano's missed chance as they sit just two points above the drop zone - with the bottom three still to play this weekend - while Saint-Etienne would need PSG and OM to lose if they are to hang onto provisional second place.