CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON - Monday, May 9, 2011
Carlos Bocanegra and St. Etienne narrowly avoided embarrassment while Quentin Westberg watched Evian snatch a late point.
AC Arles Avignon 0 - 1 St. Etienne
St. Etienne held on with an Alejandro Alonso penalty to avert an embarrassing result against the weakest squad in Ligue 1.
Carlos Bocanegra started and went the distance in the win that sees the Greens move up to eighth in the standings.
The Stephanois threatened were the first to threaten after six minutes, when Emanual Riviere floated in a pass from the left side for Alonso on a breakaway. The Buenos Aires native had a good look at Vincent Plante's goal, but only managed to strike the outside netting.
Arles-Avignon's Yann Kermorgant got a good look in the 18th minute with a towering header over Bocanegra that skipped inches left of the goal.
The decisive moment of the match came just after a half hour when Dimitri Payet streamed into the penalty area and was mowed down by captain Dianbobo Balde, prompting referee Sébastien Moreira to point to the spot and issue a yellow for the Guinean-born defender.
Alonso stepped up and converted the penalty with ease for the 1-0 lead after 33 minutes.
To make things worse for the hosts, Dianbobo committed a reckless challenge on Laurent Battles within minutes of the restart, resulting in his second yellow and eighth ejection this season for the captain.
Dimitri Payet nearly added another goal for the visitors at the hour mark, with fine dribbling through the box and a strike that pinged off the right post but out of danger.
With the 1-0 final, St. Etienne moved up into eighth place, but still face an improbable nine-point gap from the fourth and Europe-bound spot.
St. Etienne test their mettle against league-leading LOSC Lille on Tuesday at home.
Quentin Westberg watched Evian equalize in a 1-1 final against GF38 and a point to maintain their lead in Ligue 1.