Saint-Etienne fail to climb Ligue 1 ladder with goalless draw vs. Rennes

Saint-Etienne's Mevlut Erding reacts after missing a scoring opportunity against Rennes.  

PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP/Getty Images

Saint-Etienne’s bid for a Champions League spot stalled as it drew 0-0 with Rennes in the French league on Friday.

A draw for Les Verts – their third in a row – leaves them six points behind third-placed Lille who visit Marseille on Sunday evening.

Christophe Galtier’s side dominated for large parts of the game but a lack of cutting edge in the final third proved to be their downfall as Rennes avoided defeat on the road for the third successive game.

There was little to shout about during the opening exchanges and Romain Hamouma’s wayward header from Benoit Tremoulinas’ delivery after 13 minutes was the closest either side came to an early opener.

Nelson Oliveira cut a lonely figure for Rennes in attack as both sides struggled for quality in front of goal.

The hosts were asking questions of referee Benoit Bastien with nearly 25 minutes played when Max Gradel took a tumble inside the area under a Steven Moreira challenge but the man in charge rightfully waved away the claims.

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Gradel had the best chance of the half just before the break but his shot from 12 yards was half-blocked by John Boye before Costil gratefully gathered in the Rennes goal.

The game began to show some signs of livening up shortly after the interval when a deflection dropped into Mevlut Erding’s path but the Turkey international’s weak effort from eight yards was turned away by Costil.

Rennes’ first shot of the game came soon after but Romain Alessandrini’s curling effort from the edge of the area cleared the crossbar as Stephane Ruffier remained untested in the St Etienne goal.

The hosts thought they had found the elusive opener just after the hour mark when Hamouma found the net with a header from another Tremoulinas delivery, but the linesman’s flag brought a premature end to the home celebrations.

Defenders Moustapha Bayal Sall and Loic Perrin both went close with headers as full time approached but in the end both sides settled for a point despite Les Verts’ domination.