CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON - Monday, March 21, 2011
Carlos Bocanegra and St. Etienne managed to look on the bright side of a scoreless draw on the road, as they happily took the point back home and saw their ranking in the standings improve.
FC Lorient 0 – 0 AS St. Etienne
Defender Carlos Bocanegra saw 55 minutes of action as a starter, but exited with a minor calf injury in St. Etienne's draw at Lorient.
The hosts came out strong in the first half, determined to keep the race tight at the top of the standings, and saw their first opportunity after a quarter hour. In the build-up Lynel Kitambala kicked out to Kévin Monnet-Paquet on the right flank, whose feed through the box sneaked past Stephanois keeper Jérémie Janot. Sigamary Diarra collected the freebie at the backpost but fired into the outside netting.
Scoring-threat Kévin Gameiro decided to get into the action in the 25th minute with an individual effort from 25 yards out that posed no problem for the St. Etienne netminder.
After a half an hour, Alejandro Alonso nearly brought the visitors into the lead after Albin Ebondo lofted in a ball for him behind the backline. Just a step ahead of Lorient defender Bruno Ecuele Manga, the Argentine collected the feed and tried to tap past keeper Fabien Audard, but the Frenchman made himself big for the clearance.
Bocanegra picked up a calf injury, forcing the American to exit a game for the first time in 24 appearances under coach Christophe Galtier. Twenty-year-old Faouzi Ghoulam stood in for Bocanegra for the remainder of the evening.
The hosts saw a great chance swatted away in the 70th minute after a rush of ball movement in the box. Popping out to Diarra at the left corner of the penalty area, the French striker attempted a whirlwind left-footer towards the corner of the net, but Janot was quick with his reflexes and shoved the shot out of bounds.
Janot preserved the draw for St. Etienne with a gutsy 89th minute save after a give-and-go between Alaixys Romao and Gilles Sunu on the left side resulted in a point blank strike for the Togolese midfielder, but Janot was there to get a hand on the would-be winner and steal the point.
St. Etienne moved up to sixth with 39 points, and host relegation-threatened Valenciennes FC next Saturday.
Quentin Westberg was not on the bench to watch his Evian TG teammates fall 3-0 to SCO Angers on Friday night, thus slipping into fourth place in Ligue 2 standings.