Although Saint-Etienne extended its unbeaten run this year to 15 matches in all competitions, it missed the chance to provisionally move above Marseille into third place when it drew 2-2 at relegation battler Troyes in the French league on Saturday.
Fourth-place Saint-Etienne twice took the lead through strikers Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Brandao, but last-place Troyes earned a point thanks to goals from midfielders Julien Faussurier and Benjamin Nivet.
”We’re still unbeaten and the points are ticking over, but for it to be a good result we needed to win today,” Saint-Etienne midfielder Fabien Lemoine said. ”We had chances in the first half but conceded them as well, so it was difficult.”
Saint-Etienne remains slick going forward – with Aubemayang taking his league tally to 17 and Brandao reaching 10 – but it is starting to concede goals too easily.
”If we have to score three or four goals to win a game it’s going to become difficult,” Lemoine added. ”We were better organized in the second half but we weren’t able to get that third goal.”
Aubameyang has beaten his previous best league tally of 16 and has formed a lethal partnership with Brandao in recent weeks.
”It’s nice for me, although I had other chances to score today,” said Aubameyang, who is valued by his club at €12 million ($15.4 million) and expected to join one of Europe’s big clubs next season. ”Having beaten my record, I’m now aiming for 20.”
He will have to cope without Brandao for two matches, however, as the Brazilian is suspended for a dangerous stamp on Paris Saint-Germain defender Thiago Silva’s leg two weeks ago.
Jeremie Aliadiere’s 12th goal of the season put Lorient 1-0 up, but winger Ludovic Obraniak levelled for Bordeaux in the 88th.
Veteran forward Adrian Mutu made it 2-2 just before the break after goals from midfielder Etienne Capoue and winger Franck Tabanou put Toulouse 2-1 up. Capoue sealed Toulouse’s win from the penalty spot late in the second half.
Veteran forward Toifilou Maoulida and attacking midfielder Florian Thauvin got two goals each for Bastia. Striker Gregory Pujol and midfielders Remi Gomis and Gael Danic scored for Valenciennes.
Forward Floyd Ayite put Reims ahead in the 12th and got sent off two minutes later, but Reims kept attacking and forward Gaetan Courtet scored midway through the second half. Striker Yannick Sagbo pulled a goal back and Clarck N’sikulu earned a point for Evian three minutes into injury time.
Nancy won 2-0 away at Rennes to move off the bottom of the table and send Troyes there instead. Midfielder Thomas Ayasse and forward Djamel Bakar got the goals in the second half.
In Sunday’s other games, third-place Marseille travels to fierce southern rival Nice – with no Marseille fans allowed to attend the match for security reasons – and Brest faces Lille.