St. Etienne edges troubled Sochaux

St. Etienne maintained their push for European football with a 1-0 win over relegation-battling Sochaux on Saturday night.

Kurt Zouma’s 78th-minute goal was enough to take the points, although the final scoreline perhaps failed to reflect St Etienne’s control of the match.

They were particularly dominant in the first half, creating several chances to score.

The first came in the sixth minute when Faouzi Ghoulam crossed for Lynel Kitambala who headed narrowly over the bar.

Moments later, Kitambala freed Banel Nicolita between two defenders but he sent his shot just wide of the target.

Albin Ebondo then broke down the right and his excellent cross split Damien Perquis and Jeremie Brechet to pick out Josua Guilavogui, but he sent a volley narrowly over the bar.

Five minutes before half time, Bakary Sako let fly with a long-range effort that Pierrick Cros dealt with unconvincingly.

Sochaux’s first chance of the match came with three minutes left before the break when Vincent Nogueira broke from midfield to shoot at goal, but Stephane Ruffier easily kept it out.

St Etienne were on the attack again early in the second half, and were unlucky not to take the lead in the 55th minute when Nicolita’s inswinging corner surprised the visiting defence and struck the post with Cros nowhere.

Sochaux almost stole in front in the 69th minute when Nogueira set up Edouard Butin with Ruffier doing well to push his shot clear for a corner.

St Etienne received the wake-up call, however, and Nicolita’s corner found Zouma to head home.

The visitors might have snatched a late equaliser but Sylvain Marchal got back to block Marvin Martin’s goalbound shot.