Rennes held by Celtic, Sainté fall in Ghent

Martin (Stade Rennais F.C.)
UEFA Europa League

Ligue 1 Conforama's two UEFA Europa League representatives had tough opening encounters, Rennes trading penalties 1-1 with Celtic while ASSE lost 3-2 in Ghent thanks to an own-goal form captain Loïc Perrin.

Thursday, 19 September 2019

UEFA Europa League Group E, Matchday 1

Roazhon Park, Rennes

 Stade Rennais FC 1 - 1 Celtic FC

Despite having made it all the way to the quarters in the last campaign, Rennes had to make do with a share of the points in their Group E clash with Celtic.

Julien Stéphan's side went ahead when Mbaye Niang picked himself up from a foul in the area and wrong-footed Celtic 'keeper Fraser Forster with a confident shot form the spot (38', pen.). But captain Damian Da Silva's foul on James Forrest just before the hour mark did not go unnoticed and Ryan Christie beat Edouard Mendy - who had dived the right way - with power to level it up (59', pen.).

Although there were two fairly creditable shouts for further penalties - one for each side - and although both teams finished with ten men after Vakoun Bayo saw red and Da Silva was stretchered off with a knock to the head, the scores remained locked until the final whistle.

The result leaves the two sides locked on a single point with Romanian outsiders Cluj - who beat Lazio 2-1 in the group's other match - surprise Group E leaders.

UEFA Europa League Group I, Matchday 1

Ghelamco Arena, Ghent

 KAA Gent 3 - 2 AS Saint-Etienne

The main positive point for Saint-Etienne on their somewhat humbling trip to Belgium to face KAA Gent was a stunning strike from Wahbi Khazri, who has taken his time to find his customary match-winning form so far this season.

When the Tunisian slammed home a pile-driver from outside the area (38'), levelling the scores after Jonathan David's early opener (2'), it seemed that Sainté just might be able to shoot their way out of trouble, but David restored the home side's lead just before the break (43').

Saint-Etienne's defensive woes were highlighted by captain Loïc Perrin's turning the ball into his own net just after the hour-mark (64'), and even though Gent 'keeper Tomas Kaminski's absolute howler that saw a regulation back-pass cross his goal-line (74'), Sainté's goose was already cooked and Ghislain Printant's men left Belgium empty-handed as 3-2 losers.

Saint-Etienne now sit in third place in Group I, ahead of Ukraine's Oleksandria, who were beaten 3-1 by Group I leaders Wolfsburg.

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