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Saint Etienne end 32-year wait for silverware

Saint Etienne won their first major honour in three decades on Saturday, beating Rennes 1-0 to lift the League Cup at the Stade de France.

Saint Etienne end 32-year wait for silverware
Saint Etienne players celebrate winning the League Cup at the Stade de France. Photo: Franck Fife/AFP

Brazilian striker Brandao scored the only goal in the 18th minute to lift the trophy for a third time after two successful campaigns with former club Marseille.

"Thirty two years is a long time — our first time at the Stade de France and we did it. Brandao was our locomotive but the whole team were fantastic," said coach Christophe Galtier.

"It's a very important win for Saint Etienne. I came here to win trophies and that's what we've done," enthused man of the match Brandao.

'Les Verts' were the biggest club in France for much of the 1970s, famously jousting with Liverpool in the European Cup quarter-finals in 1977.

With Michel Platini in his pomp prior to his move to even greater stardom with Juventus, the side from the industrial east claimed their 10th league crown in 1981.

But the intervening years have brought lean pickings for the club from the industrial heartland of the country until Saturday's success.

Worse still for Saint Etienne fans, recent years have been spent very much in the shadow of near neighbours Lyon, who won seven league titles in a row between 202 and 2008.

Brandao, who won a 2010 league title while at Marseille, was on the mark as Saint Etienne took an early grip on proceedings with an opportunistic goal and thereafter the team didn't look back.

Renaud Cohade fed Yohan Mollo and he in turn found Gabonese star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang lurking on the left of the Rennes' penalty area.

His swirling cross eluded Rennes keeper Benoit Costil and Brandao slid in to volley home from point blank range.

Saint Etienne then suffered a setback as Mevlut Erding had to leave the field on 24 minutes through injury, to be replaced by Cheick Diarra.

But they nearly went two goals to the good when from an Aubameyang cross this time from the right flank Costil did well to save a Brandao header.

Julien Feret did attempt a riposte for Rennes but his low freekick was blocked on the line by Saint Etienne keeper Stephane Ruffier.

With nine minutes remaining, Brandao looked poised to net again but hauled up for offside just as he looked poised to strike.

Rennes, seeking to snap a silverware drought of their own stretching back to a French Cup win in 1971, did threaten to get back on terms in the 86th minute but Ruffier saved well from Sadio Diallo.

The loss was a third in the final for Rennes coach Frederic Antonetti, a former Saint Etienne coach, who tasted defeat with Bastia in 1995 and also with Nice in 2006.

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FOOTBALL

French prosecutors demand jail term for Russian accused of leaving England football fan with brain damage

French prosecutors on Friday called for a 15-year prison sentence for one of two Russians accused of beating a British supporter during Euro 2016, an attack that left him with brain injuries.

French prosecutors demand jail term for Russian accused of leaving England football fan with brain damage
Russian fans light flares at the match against England in 2016.. Photo: AFP

One prosecutor, Christophe Raffin, asked for the “legal maximum… between 14 and 15 years” for Pavel Kossov, who is accused of throwing the first punch at 55-year-old Andrew Bache.

Bache was injured in the violence that broke out before England played Russia in the southern French port city of Marseille on June 11th, 2016.

The second Russian on trial in Aix-en-Provence, Mikhail Ivkine, stands accused of throwing a chair at the victim, with prosecutors asking for a potential suspended sentence of up to five years.

He has claimed he was defending himself.

“No, it wasn't legitimate self-defence, it was illegitimate use of force against Andrew Bache,” Raffin said of the violence.

 

Police give emergency aid to Andrew Bache following clashes in the city of Marseille. Photo: AFP

The prosecutors said the Russians were part of a group of about 150 men, many with martial arts training, who wrought havoc in Marseille.

Bache, from Portsmouth in southern England, has no memory of the events and is too frail to attend the trial.

His son Harry, who nurses his father, is representing him in court.

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