CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON - Monday, May 23, 2011
It was a mixed bag for the Americans in France as Quentin Westberg and Evian clinched promotion to Ligue 1 while Carlos Bocanegra and St. Etienne watched the Europa League-bound boat leave the port against Sochaux.
FC Sochaux Montbéliard 2 - 1 AS St. Etienne
Sochaux clinched a Europa League spot at the expense of St. Etienne on Saturday night thanks to a pair of goals from Brown Ideye.
Carlos Bocanegra stood in the backline as a starter and registered a full ninety.
Boukary Drame set up the opener within four minutes after an individual burst down the left side and lay-off to Marvin Martin, who found his earth-shattering kaboom, Ideye, in the front of the net for the easy tap home past Jessy Moulin and the 1-0 lead.
The Stephanois wasted no time in catching up when Loďc Perrin laced a downfield pass through the midfield for Alejandro Alonso, who shimmied off a shot at Sochaux keeper Timmy Richert. Although the captain was there for the deflection, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang was there as well to scoop home the leftovers for a quick equalizer.
With both squads looking to nab the sixth spot in the final standings with two games to go, the two traded attempts throughout the midsection of the evening until Ryad Boudebouz found Ideye for the go-ahead goal in the 72nd minute. Camped out on the right side, the Algerian international curled in a silver-platter delivery for the Nigerian to easily nod forward, leaving the back-up Stephanois keeper with no chance.
Time ran out on a Stephanois comeback and Sochaux happily claimed the three points, ensuring them of a sixth or fifth finish after next weekend's action.
St. Etienne will look to round out their season next Sunday at home to Paris St. Germain, who hope to make one last push for next season's Champions League.
Stade de Reims 1 - 2 Evian TG FC
Evian created the result of the evening in grand fashion, clinching promotion with a comeback and a late golazo from substitute Cédric Cambon.
Quentin Westberg minded the posts for the visitors in his third start for the Savoyards this season, conceding his first goal thus far.
The hosts seemed to shoot themselves in the foot after 28 minutes, when 24-year-old Cape Verdian Odair Fortes was dismissed for lashing out in retaliation with a cleat-first kick at Felipe Saad after a hard challenge.
Yet, they mustered a goal within minutes after Westberg was not helped out by defender Claudio Caçapa, who headed too lightly back for him, allowing Cédric Fauré to nod past Westberg for the 1-0 lead in the 34th minute.
Evian found a way to counter just after the break, when Sagbo went down to the ground in a confrontation with Aissa Mandi. Referee Benoit Millot pointed to the spot to the disbelief of the 14,000 supporters in Stade Auguste-Delaune in Reims.
Kévin Berigaud stepped up and punched the penalty past Kossi Agassa for the 1-1 equalizer.
The climax of a riveting encounter came when Cédric Cambon entered for captain Cédric Barbosa in the 81st minute, and notched the decisive winner six minutes later. Surprising the defense and even his own teammates, the unlikely hero of the evening scored his third of the season finding just enough room from 25 yards out to thread a blast past the outstretched glove of Agassa for the 2-1 lead and eventual final.
Le Mans' loss to Vannes ensured a Ligue 1-bound spot for the Savoyards, who return home next Friday to host FC Metz, celebrate promotion, and potentially claim the championship.