Saint-Etienne 3-1 Girondins de Bordeaux: Champions 22-Match Unbeaten Run Snapped
Les Verts started the sharper of the two outfits and took the early initiative when Augusto Fernandez headed them into the lead. Ilan would double the hosts’ lead before the break, but a Jussie penalty midway through the second half breathed new life into the game. As Bordeaux committed men forward late on, Dimitri Payet caught them on the counter.
Laurent Blanc had promised heavy rotation for this game and dually kept his word, making no less than eight chances to the team who looked so shattered in their midweek encounter against Maccabi Haifa. However, this only seemed to unsettle the unit, who fell behind in the seventh minute when Augusto completed a flowing move with a neat headed finish over Cedric Carrasso.
Brimming with confidence after a strong series of results, Sainte continued to push forward, with Gonzalo Bergessio at the centre of much of their best play. Bordeaux, on the other hand, looked somewhat leaden and sluggish, struggling to combine play with their usual fluency. Indeed, the best of their early efforts came from Gregory Sertic, whose bending effort was not really troublesome for Jeremie Janot in the home goal, who watched the kick drift off target.
Bordeaux continued to be far from their best, not looking the strong defensive unit that they had previously as Ilan broke into a promising position but chose the wrong option when faced with a crucial crossroads. This did not stop the Brazilian, who has been riddled with injury problems this season, doubling their lead 12 minutes before the break. Bergessio was the architect with a fine pass with the outside of his boot, but the striker still had much to do in order to fend off Henrique and Michael Ciani before finishing with a neat side-foot.
Les Girondins were actually enjoying a great deal of possession, but their threat was minimal, with lone striker David Bellion much too isolated for long periods of the first half. When the visiting side got within sight of goal, les Verts defended with relish, making several stifling blocks on dangerous looking shots.
There was much more life about the visiting side in the early stages of the second half, though it would still be the hosts who had the better early chance to extend their lead. Good play down the right from Augusto saw him cut a pass back to Ilan, who made a mess of the finish when well placed.
This scare brought about a response from Blanc, who dispatched Marouane Chamakh and Fernando Cavenaghi onto the field. The presence of the two strikers on the field meant that Bordeaux suddenly had a little more vigour about their play, though this was not translated into a real chance until midway through the period, when Sertic was fouled in the box by Yohan Andreu. Jussie sent the kick into the net, Janot having guessed the wrong way.
Panicked, Sainte reshuffled their defence to cope with the threat of Chamakh, coach Alain Perrin holding a conference with his side when play stopped. Les Verts held firm, despite the increase in tension around the ground, Wendel sending a daisy-cutting drive wide of Janot’s goal.
Sainte were posing few problems for Bordeaux’s defence, but they did nearly snatch a decisive third goal from Payet, who benefitted from the endeavours of Blaise Matuidi and Emmanuel Riviere but could not keep his shot down.
Respite was rare for the home team, but they did claim that third goal deep into stoppage time, finally breaking Bordeaux’s remarkable unbeaten streak, which had lasted nearly seven months. It would be Payet that plunged the final dagger into Blanc’s men, running onto a long ball and shooting past the advanced Carrasso from well outside the box.
It was a fine goal to cap a famous victory, which will have gone a long way to making amends for a pretty miserable start to the campaign. Bordeaux, meanwhile, will lick their wounds over the international break, knowing that their punishing schedule of fixtures finally took its toll.