St. Etienne impede Inter’s progress into Europa League KO stage with draw

St. Etienne denied Inter Milan the chance to secure their progression to the Europa League knockout stages by holding the Serie A club to a 1-1 draw at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.

Victory in France would have seen Inter book a top-half finish in Group F and they were put on the right track when Dodo notched before half-time.

But the Nerazzurri failed to respond to Moustapha Bayal Sall’s equaliser and can still be caught by third-placed St Etienne over the course of the next two rounds.

Zdravko Kuzmanovic led the charge for Inter with two efforts in the first 10 minutes. Both attempts missed the mark but St Etienne were on the back foot and Dodo soon went close with a free-kick.

Stephane Ruffier had to punch the ball clear when Kuzmanovic took aim from distance in the 16th minute.

Les Verts then enjoyed a positive spell which saw Romain Hamouma warm Juan Carrizo’s palms and Kevin Theophile-Catherine nod the ball over the Inter crossbar from a corner.

In the 33rd minute, though, the Italians took the lead.

Rodrigo Palacio thought he had scored, only for Ruffier to flap his effort off the line. Dodo swooped in to tuck home the rebound.

Inter might have doubled their lead before the break but Nemanja Vidic could only send his headed effort over the bar after Dodo had delivered a pinpoint corner kick.

The Serbian defender was at fault for St Etienne’s equaliser, which arrived shortly after play resumed.

He should have dealt with Hamouma’s cross but reacted much too late and Bayal Sall gratefully drilled the ball past Carrizo and home.

The hosts went looking for a winner and went close to getting it through Max Gradel, whose drilled shot was just about snaffled by Carrizo in the 75th minute.