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ASSE keep pressure on Lyon with Toulouse win

Publish on 25/04/2019 at 00h00 - S. WILLIS

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AS Saint-Etienne remain within three points of Olympique Lyonnais in the third and final UEFA Champions League place after beating Toulouse FC 2-0. Robert Beric got the goals for Jean-Louis Gasset's side.

AS Saint-Etienne 2-0 Toulouse FC 

THE MATCH

Saint-Etienne bounced into the match in intimidating form, having won four of their previous five matches, drawing the other, and they wasted no time in taking the lead at their Stade Geoffroy-Guichard. Pierre-Yves Polomat, making just his eighth start of the season on the left flank, squared for Beric, who was left with a tap-in for 1-0 (2'). Toulouse had held second-place LOSC to a goalless draw last Sunday, handing the title to Paris Saint-Germain, but they were two goals down here inside the first ten minutes when Beric doubled his tally. Again, the danger came down the left, this time Wahbi Khazri finding the Slovenian, who steered home his seventh goal of the season (10'). Khazri then forced a fine save from Baptiste Reynet (13') but Sainté were then very nearly the architects of their own undoing. William Saliba passed back to Stéphane Ruffier who handled the ball. Referee Jérémy Stinat had no choice but to give Toulouse an indirect free-kick, but ASSE scrambled to keep out Max Gradel's subsequent shot (22'). Ibrahim Sangaré forced the ball beyond Ruffier past the half hour, but the big Ivorian was waved offside (33') and Sainté carried their 2-0 lead into the interval.

Late chances

Romain Hamouma had a chance to put the game beyond doubt early in the second half after Valentin Vada had won back possession on the edge of the Toulouse box, but his well-struck shot was straight at Reynet (48'). Yaya Sanogo then came close at the other end, finding Ruffier's bottom corner despite being off-balance, but he was denied by a fine save (55'). Loïc Perrin then found himself in unchartered territory - the Toulouse box - past the hour mark. The centre-back's dip of the shoulder to get past Gen Shoji belied the fact that he has scored one goal in two years, the subsequent finish rather did not (66'). Toulouse had the chance to reduce the arrears when Gradel was brought down by Mathieu Debuchy in the Saint-Etienne area, but the former ASSE winger was denied from the spot, Ruffier guessing right and pushing his penalty onto the post (77'). Reynet then pulled off a great double-save to keep first Arnaud Nordin and then Rémy Cabella out (79') and it ended 2-0.

THE PLAYER: Robert Beric

Signed in 2015 on the back of a 30-goal campaign with Rapid Vienna, a cruciate ligament rupture and torn hamstring have held up Beric's progress at Saint-Etienne recent years. Even this season, Khazri has been given the nod to lead the line more often than not. Khazri was wide left today though, giving Beric the chance to showcase the cutting edge he was first signed for at the point of the Sainté attack, something he seized with both hands.

THE STAT: 7

Saint-Etienne are undefeated in each of their last seven games against Toulouse in all competitions. The last time Les Verts suffered defeated to Le Téfécé was back in August 2015, when Martine Braithwaite and Wissam Ben Yedder - now respectively of Leganes and Sevilla in Spain's La Liga - scored to cancel out Perrin's opener at the Stadium Municipal.