St Etienne battle for a point
Last Updated: 26/05/13 11:34pm
St Etienne clebrate after their goal
Ten-man St Etienne claimed a hard-fought 1-1 draw in Lille to deny their hosts a Europa League place.
Les Verts had already secured European football by winning the Coupe de la Ligue and Lille's failure to maintain a lead earned through Salomon Kalou allowed Nice to leapfrog both clubs into the fourth with victory at Ajaccio.
Romain Hamouma's second-half equaliser proved to be critical for Lille, who went close to scoring a late winner through Kalou at the death after Josua Guilavogui had been dismissed for a cynical foul.
A draw for Les Verts meant they had lost just once in 2013 in Ligue 1 and ensured they finished in fifth, one place ahead of Rudi Garcia's men.
It was a cagey opening from both sides and it was not until 20 minutes in that the visitors almost fashioned a goal.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang got in down the left and fired a dangerous cross across the goal area but Hamouma was just a whisker away from getting a telling touch.
Lille replied five minutes later and went even closer to opening the scoring. Les Verts failed to deal with a corner and the ball fell at the feet of Franck Beria but he blazed over from 12 yards.
The hosts continued to press and Dimitri Payet thought he had scored but for a superb stop from Stephane Ruffier before Kalou saw his follow up cleared off the line by Francois Clerc.
Lille's pressure finally paid off minutes before the interval when Kalou sent them into a half-time lead.
Payet picked out Rodelin in the area and he nodded the ball down for Kalou to knock the ball past Ruffier for a precious Lille goal.
Lille thought they had doubled their lead just after the interval but Kalou was rightly ruled offside before, at the other end, Brandao's dangerous shot from 20 yards finished up the wrong side of Barel Mouko's post.
St Etienne's leveller came on the hour mark when Faouzi Ghoulam played a superb ball to release Hamouma in behind the hosts defence and he made no mistake when faced with only Mouko.
Matters took a turn for the worse for the visitors though with just over 20 minutes to play. Guilavogui cynically hauled down Rio Mavuba and, having been booked earlier, the referee was left with no choice and St Etienne were down to 10.
Lille tried to make use of their man advantage and Kalou went desperately close but his header from a Payet corner was hacked off the line by Loic Perrin and the visitors held out to take a point.
French Ligue 1
Sun 26th May
AC Ajaccio0 - 2Nice
Lorient1 - 3PSG
Bordeaux2 - 1Evian
Lille1 - 1St Etienne
Marseille0 - 0Reims
Lyon2 - 0Rennes
Bastia0 - 0Sochaux
Brest1 - 2Nancy
Toulouse2 - 0Montpellier
Valenc'nes2 - 1Troyes
French Ligue 1
|1||Paris St Germain||35||74|
|18||Evian Thonon Gaillar||35||37|