CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON - Sunday, February 27, 2011
Carlos Bocanegra and Saint Etienne took their lumps at home at the hands of Nice while Quentin Westberg watched Evian's defeat to Dijon from the bench.
AS Saint-Etienne 0 – OGC Nice 2
St. Etienne 's recent run of misery continued on Saturday in a home loss to a struggling squad able to ride the tide of a fortunate Kafoumba Coulibaly strike.
American Carlos Bocanegra recorded a full ninety for the Stephanois in the losing effort.
After a deadlock in the first half, Coulibaly ignited the game with a blast, and Anthony Mounier added an insurance goal with five minutes to go
The hosts looked to take the game by the reins within the first minute when Laurent Batlles caught up with a deep delivery down the left side and found Alejandro Alonso at the top of the area. Having just returned from an injury, the Argentinian wasted no time and got a good look at goal, but curled his shot just wide of the right post.
The Greens saw more looks at the back of the net for most of the first half, with a near-miss coming in the 19th minute from Bocanegra. Off a corner from the right side, the 31-year old snuck in the back door of the melee in front of the net to catch up with the delivery and pull the trigger on a left-footer. Nice netminder David Ospina was ready with the reflexes and got just enough of a glove to swat it to safety.
However, David Bellion closed out the half with the most dangerous shot of the first half and an excellent chance to bring the Eaglets into the lead. Chasing down a long pass from the left side, the Frenchman shook off Stephanois defenders Sylvain Marchal and Sylvain Monsoreau with a nifty spin move, and smacked the left post.
With the defense intact, Eric Roy's Nice squad continued to knock on the door entering the second half. After only five minutes Chaouki Ben Saada delivered a dangerous cross into the box for Anthony Mounier unguarded at the back post, but Jérémie Janot just barely got a hand on the pass.
In the 54th minute, Coulibaly orchestrated what will likely be regarded as the goal of the season, if not the most unlikely goal of the season. Streaming down the right sideline, the Ivorian striker looked to send in a cross, but instead threaded a shot through from a tight angle that Janot lost track of until it tickled the netting for the surprise one goal lead.
With the wind out of their sails, Stephanois skipper Christophe Galtier used his three substitutions within a quarter hour, and paid the price when Marchel came up limping in the 80th minute and took a seat on the bench.
Reduced to ten men, St. Etienne let one more slip in at the 85 minute mark when Mounier slipped in behind the defense in a failed offside trap. With space ahead of him, the Frenchman raced ahead and flicked a left-footer past Janot for the two goal win.
With the loss, the Stephanois slipped to seventh in the Ligue 1 standings with 35 points, but went sufficient time left in the season to make up points. Next Saturday, Bocanegra and Co. head up to Normandy for a Saturday night face-off with SM Caen.
Quentin Westberg minded the bench in Evian TG's 2-0 home loss to Dijon, bringing them down a notch to third in the Ligue 2 standings.