Rennes, Saint-Étienne struggle in Europe
Stade Rennais and AS Saint-Étienne endured disappointing and frustrating nights in the UEFA Europa League with neither side able to score the win that would have boosted their chances of reaching the knockout stages.
Thursday, 24 October 2019
UEFA Europa League Matchday 3
AS Saint-Etienne 1-1 FC Olexandriya
Saint-Étienne tore into their opponents from the off, and soon had their noses in front.
Arnaud Nordin stood out, but it was Gabriel Silva, playing his first game in eight months after suffering a cruciate ligament injury, who gave them an early lead after being teed up by Romain Hamouma (8').
The Brazilian full-back will remember his long-awaited return for some time as he also scored an own-goal to level things up soon after (14').
Kyrylo Kovalets stung the hands of Stéphane Ruffier (35') as the Ukrainian visitors, who had just a point like their opponents from their opening two matches, tried to seize the initiative.
Claude Puel reshuffled his side with the introducton of Ryad Boudebouz at half-time, but it wasn't until well into the second period that his team managed a shot when Hamouma fired wide (65').
Charles Abi headed wide (70'), Hamouma came close to snatching it in added time with another header just over the bar (90') as did Boudebouz with a volley, but Les Verts had to settle for a point.
Stade Rennais FC 0-1 CFR 1907 Cluj
Rennes had drawn at home to Celtic in their opening game, their Romanian oppoents were beaten in Glasgow last time out, but the Bretons' hopes were soon dealt a significant blow.
Jérémy Morel lost possession in his own half, and when Lacina Traoré broke clear, home 'keeper Edouard Mendy brought down the Ivorian, earning himself a worryingly early red card (6').
Cluj compounded their pain as Ciprian Deac fired the resulting free-kick low past Pepe Bonet, the 16-year-old goalkeeper who had come on to fill the gap Mendy had left between the posts (9').
Damjan Djokovic fired wide as the hosts trembled (22') before Mbaye Niang missed a chance to pull Rennes level, firing wide from the penalty spot after Adrien Hunou had won the spot-kick (28').
Bonnet then kept Rennes in the match with saves from Djokovic (32', 38'), but Eduardo Camavinga's dismissal for a foul on ex-Olympique de Marseille man Billel Omrani in the opening minute of the second half made life tougher still for Julien Stéphan's men.
Hunou fired wide (65') as did Raphinha (68') before the visitors' Mateo Susic made it three men sent off on the night (82') but Cluj clung on to leave Rennes reeling.