Abeid and Blas fire Nantes past Saint-Etienne
FC Nantes picked up their first win at AS Saint-Etienne in 19 years, with Mehdi Abeid and Ludovic Blas on target in a 2-0 win at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on Sunday.
AS Saint-Etienne 0-2 FC Nantes
Nantes made the six-hour journey east to Saint-Etienne without injured first-teamers Nicolas Pallois, Kalifa Coulibaly and Fabio, but there were no home fans there to greet them - this game being played behind closed doors - and the visitors looked comfortable without the ASSE support there to pull against them. Abeid opened the scoring with a fine attempt midway through the half, controlling well before lashing a left-footed attempt beyond Stéphane Ruffier for his first Nantes goal (23'). Imran Louza then fired a free-kick directly into Ruffier's gloves (27') before Sainté settled into their stride. Ryad Boudebouz came closest drawing Claude Puel's men back onto level terms when he got sight of the Nantes goal just past the half-hour, but his half-volley flew over (32') and the sides went in for the break with the score at 1-0.
Nantes make sure
Both teams made changes at half-time, with Charles Abi replacing Boudebouz for ASSE and Thomas Basila coming on for Molla Wagué for Les Canaris. The change in personnel looked to be a welcome injection of energy for the hosts, who saw Arnaud Nordin pull an effort wide from the edge of the box soon after the restart (47'), but they found themselves further behind moments later. Kader Bamba and Moses Simon played a good one-two on the edge of the area before the latter cut the ball back for Blas, and the midfielder made no mistake steering his fifth goal in eight games beyond Ruffier and into his bottom corner (48'). Wahbi Khazri came close to reducing the arrears when he cut inside and let fly, but his shot fizzed the wrong side of the near post (65'). Louza might have added gloss to the scoreline late on but his long-range attempt drifted wide (79') and it ended 2-0.
THE PLAYER: Mehdi Abeid
A France international youth player who broke through at RC Lens, Abeid has since had inconsistent spells at five clubs in four different countries, but the 27-year-old has been playing some of his career-best form since signing for Nantes from Dijon FCO in the summer. The now Algeria international was picked up on a free transfer. A goal and two assists in the league later and the midfielder is looking like a shrewd acquisition.
THE STAT: 11
This was Nantes first win away at Saint-Etienne in 11 attempts - a run stretching back to November 2000, when Viorel Moldovan and Stéphane Ziani scored in a 2-0 win for La Maison Jaune at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.