St Etienne take derby honours
Last Updated: 30/03/14 10:47pm
Mevlut Erding celebrates after opening the scoring
St Etienne kept up the pressure on third-placed Lille with an impressive 2-1 win in the Rhone Valley derby at Lyon.
Mevlut Erding set the hosts on their way to a first win in eight against their neighbours with his third goal in two matches but that lead was short lived thanks to an Alexandre Lacazette leveller.
However, substitute Max Gradel ensured Les Verts remain just three points behind Lille with his first goal this year.
With tackles flying in early on, both sides pressed well to try and get a foothold in the game but it was Lyon who had a first sight of goal when Yoann Gourcuff picked out Alexandre Lacazette from out wide, but the young attacker could only head wide from 12 yards.
St Etienne hit back straight away but, when Benoit Tremolinas's cut back from the left fell at the feet of Francois Clerc, the former Lyon midfielder saw his first-time effort saved well by Anthony Lopes as the visitors began to build up a head of steam.
Lopes was called into action again at the 25 minute mark, getting down well to keep out Brandao's effort before smothering Erding on the follow-up as Les Verts edged closer to an opener.
And that breakthrough came, just a minute later, when Tremolinas picked out Brandao inside the area and his header down was pounced on by Erding to score from close range and silence the vociferous home crowd.
Les Gones offered an immediate response and, after Bakary Kone and Steed Malbranque both had wild efforts at goal, the hosts levelled with half-time fast approaching.
Playing against his former employers, Bafetimbi Gomis showed good endeavour to find space in the right channel before chipping a ball over the top from which Lacazette made no mistake with a clinical first-time volley.
Having scored an injury-time winner in the reverse fixture earlier in the season, Lyon brought on Jimmy Briand at the interval in the hope of adding extra impetus to their attack but, a blocked Henri Bedimo shot aside, the hosts struggled to create chances in the early stages of the second half.
Then, just after the hour mark, Briand was heavily involved in the match's most contentious moment when his cross was clearly handled by Moustapha Bayal Sall inside the St Etienne area but referee Ruddy Buquet waved play on, much to the anger of the Stade Gerland crowd.
That decision proved pivotal when the visitors made an attacking substitution of their own, introducing former Leeds winger Gradel on 67 minutes, which paid dividends as Les Verts took the lead for the second time in the match.
Renaud Cohade wriggled the free down the right and, after his cross was spilled low down by Lopes, the ball fell at the feet of Gradel who made no mistake from 12 yards with a firm finish.
An expected response from Les Gones came and only a combination of some desperate goalkeeping and last ditch defending prevented Gomis and Briand levelling the game for a second time as St Etienne stood firm.
French Ligue 1
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|17||Evian Thonon Gaillar||10||10|