Saint Etienne win to end 20-year Lyon hoodoo

The action in Ligue 1 this weekend saw wins for league leaders Marseille an second-placed PSG as well as Saint Etienne, who beat their bitter rivals for the first time at home in 20 years.

Saint Etienne win to end 20-year Lyon hoodoo
St Etienne players celebrate after beating Lyong at home for the first time in 20 years. Photo: Philippe Desmazes/AFP

Moustapha Sall and Ricky Van Wolfswinkel gave Saint Etienne a 2-0 lead by half-time and Renaud Cohade finished the job in the 69th minute.

The result sent a wave of joy round the stadium as it ended a run dating back to April 1994 and a series of seven home defeats by their bitter local rivals.

Playing with a five-man defence the home side were rarely troubled by Lyon's 4-4-2 but breathed huge sighs of relief when Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette missed a sitter at 1-0 before also sending a penalty wide in the 79th minute.

"We put pressure on them and played it perfectly the way we came out of defence, it's exactly what we wanted," said Saint Etienne coach Christophe Galtier.

Ivory Coast midfielder Max Gradel provided the assist for the first two goals as he comes back into form after recent injuries.

"I've been working hard and it's paid off, hopefully I'll get more games now," he told French television.

Marseille remain top on 34 points after their 2-0 home win over Nantes on Friday while champions Paris Saint Germain are second on 33 after their 1-0 win over Nice on Saturday.

Lyon had gone 10 games unbeaten since the beginning of September to climb to third in the table, where they still remain on 27 points ahead of Bordeaux in fourth on goal difference.

Bordeaux remained in the hunt for a Champions League place after a 1-0 win over Lille, thanks to a goal by giant Mali striker Cheick Diabate.

Lille, the 2011 champions, remain 14th and just two points above the relegation zone.

It was a welcome return to form for Bordeaux, who lost last week at Marseille to drop three points off the Champions League places.

But in maintaining one of only two unbeaten home records in Ligue 1 — the other belonging to PSG — Willy Sagnol's side kept in the European hunt.

Lille's lethargy could only partly be explained by a draining trip to Krasnodar, in the heart of Russia, for a Europa League match on Thursday, but tired legs could not be blamed entirely for such an insipid display and lack of fight.

Bordeaux could have gone in front as early as the third minute but Thomas Toure's shot came back off the post and Diego Rolan was flagged offside as he knocked in the rebound.

Lille, who have not won for two months, largely contained Bordeaux's four-pronged attack in the first 45 minutes and even rattled their hosts five minutes from the break when Cedric Carrasso had to make a one-handed save to deny Roux.

Toure hit the post again on 50 minutes direct from a corner that caused confusion in the visiting defence.

But they finally broke the deadlock just after the hour mark as 6ft 4in (1.94m) Diabate converted a cross from Nicolas Maurice-Belay to score his sixth goal of the season.

PSG are the only unbeaten side but still trail Marseille despite Saturday's ninth consecutive win in all competitions.

Sweden striker Ibrahimovic stroked home the spot-kick just past the hour mark after Nice defenders Jordan Amavi and Romain Genevois had cleaned out Lucas in the box.

Florian Thauvin scored one goal and set up the second at the Stade Velodrome on Friday evening.

Thauvin deftly converted a Dimitri Payet cross and then saw his free-kick headed home by Rod Fanni as Marseille claimed a seventh successive home victory, their best run at the Velodrome since their 2009-10 title-winning


Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


‘Not football’s job’ to combat homophobia: French football chief

The head of French football has pulled away from a hardline stance against homophobic chanting and banners in stadiums on Friday, saying that "too many matches" have been stopped due to anti-gay abuse.

'Not football's job' to combat homophobia: French football chief

Noel Le Graet, president of the French Football Federation (FFF), said that the FFF would not instruct referees to stop matches except in cases when a “whole stadium” was guilty of homophobic chanting.

“I think we're stopping too many matches! That makes certain government ministers happy, but it bothers me. Football can't be taken hostage by vulgarity,” said Le Graet in an interview with newspaper Ouest-France.

Several matches have been temporarily halted in France this season after the French football League (LFP) introduced over the summer plans to tackle fan homophobia during matches, including allowing referees to stop games.

“Matches have been stopped when they shouldn't have been,” Le Graet continued.

“We will stop them if there is consistent homophobic abuse from the whole ground, but if among 30,000 people there are 2,000 imbeciles I don't see why the other 28,000 should be punished.”

Le Graet referred to France's sports minister Roxana Maracineanu, who in April launched the appeal for matches to be stopped in the event of homophobic abuse, and equalities minister Marlene Schiappa.

Schiappa publicly praised referee Clement Turpin after he stopped Marseille's 2-1 win at Nice for over 10 minutes last month following sustained abusive chanting and banners from home fans, but Le Graet insisted that it wasn't football's job to combat homophobia.

Paris Saint-Germain's match at Metz two days later was also briefly halted for a banner unfurled by the hosts' supporters asking the French league (LFP) to allow them to aim homophobic chants at PSG.

“Did football invent homophobia? You can be a know-it-all when you have got much to say. But there are more important political issues,” he said.

“This crisis will resolve itself. We will work with club presidents, people who don't stick their oar in every morning, who don't want to just look good in front of the television cameras.”