Saint-Etienne put Euro exit behind them
By A. Scott
AS Saint-Etienne got back on track after the disappointment of their Europa League exit, beating Girondins de Bordeaux 2-1 to ensure that they end the weekend in the top three in Ligue 1.
AS Saint-Etienne 2 - 1 Girondins de Bordeaux
Les Verts may have been in European action less than 72 hours earlier, but their energy and desire proved too much for Bordeaux at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard and Romain Hamouma gave the hosts the lead in the eighth minute. Captain Loïc Perrin headed in the second goal six minutes after the restart, and the final outcome was never really in doubt after that, even if Ludovic Obraniak pulled one back in stoppage time with a sensational strike from outside the area.
Christophe Galtier's side go into the international break with three wins from four league games and nine points from a possible 12, while Les Girondins still have just one win to their name and must face Paris Saint-Germain in their next outing.
With this game being played less than 48 hours before the transfer window slams shut, it must have been difficult for Saint-Etienne coach Christophe Galtier to stay focused on events on the field. He saw France midfielder Josuha Guilavogui edge towards a transfer to Atlético Madrid on Sunday morning, while the club also agreed deals in principle to bring winger Yohan Mollo back from Nancy and to sign striker Mevlut Erding from Rennes.
That duo were both in the stands at Le Chaudron, as Guilavogui's place in the starting line-up went to the returning Jérémy Clément. Two more changes were made from the side that lost 1-0 at home to the Danes of Esbjerg in that ill-fated Europa League play-off second leg, with the injured Brandão and Franck Tabanou being replaced by Benjamin Corgnet and Banel Nicoliţă, the latter making his first league start in almost a year. In contrast, Bordeaux coach Francis Gillot started with the same side that beat SC Bastia 1-0 in their last outing.
They should have been the fresher of the two sides, but Saint-Etienne came flying out of the traps and took the lead in the eighth minute. Galtier chose to send his team out in a 4-4-2 formation, with Nicoliţă on the right wing and Hamouma playing through the middle. The Romanian international crossed towards the back post, where Hamouma got in front of the ball-watching Mariano to side-foot past an exposed Cédric Carrasso.
After that, Sainté were able to let Bordeaux have the ball, and seek to hit their visitors on the break. It was a tactic that should have brought them more joy before the first period was out, with Corgnet playing a one-two with Hamouma before shooting just wide of the far post after drawing the 'keeper in the 21st minute.
The closest Bordeaux came was when Kurt Zouma, playing at left-back, was caught in possession, and Nicolas Maurice-Belay's lay-off was fired wide from the edge of the box by André Biyogo Poko. In contrast, Saint-Etienne missed two glorious opportunities to extend their lead before the interval, with Hamouma spinning away from Jaroslav Plašil only to shoot straight at Carrasso before Renaud Cohade and Corgnet linked up superbly, with the latter's effort coming back off the woodwork.
Gillot made two changes at the interval, replacing Mariano and Maurice-Belay with Julien Faubert and Jussiê, but the hosts continued to apply the pressure and were finally rewarded with the second goal in the 51st minute. Hamouma's free-kick from the right was helped on by Corgnet for Perrin, who stooped down low at the back post to head in.
Bordeaux nearly got a quick goal back, but Cheick Diabaté's acrobatic overhead kick from a Biyogo Poko pass came back off the underside of the bar and out to safety. The visitors had lost on just one of their last nine visits to Saint-Etienne in Ligue 1 but this was not to be their day, and Obraniak's strike, arrowing high into Ruffier's top right-hand corner from 25 yards, proved too little too late.