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MATCH REPORT | Saint-Étienne 2-1 Metz: Les Verts one match away from Ligue 1

MATCH REPORT | Saint-Étienne 2-1 Metz: Les Verts one match away from Ligue 1
MATCH REPORT | Saint-Étienne 2-1 Metz: Les Verts one match away from Ligue 1

Ligue 1 Uber Eats Relegation Play-off, First-leg, 30/05/24

AS Saint- Étienne head to the Stade Saint-Symphorien on Sunday with a slender advantage (2-1) to protect after a 2-1 victory over FC Metz leaves them on the brink of a return to Ligue 1.

Since arriving on loan from FC Augsburg, Irvin Cardona has proven the difference for Saint-Étienne and that was once again the case at a bouncing Geoffroy-Guichard. Les Verts’ gameplan became quickly apparent. Throughout the season, Metz goalkeeper Alexandre Oukidja has looked suspect when dealing with balls into the box and that was once again the case.

Les Grenats may have their weaknesses but they also have their strengths and one of them goes by the name of Georges Mikautadze. He has almost single-handedly saved Metz’s season; without him Laszlo Bölöni’s side’s fate would already likely be sealed. The Georgian international gave Saint-Étienne a scare, striking the outside of the Saint-Étienne post after wrongfooting his man inside the box.

However, just moments later, Saint-Étienne opened the score thanks to Ibrahim Sissoko’s first-time lobbed finish past Oukidja. Metz fought back and went into half-time level. Ismaël Traoré rose highest from a corner and directed a powerful header in the direction of the Saint-Étienne goal. However, it was directed straight at Gautier Larsonneur, who should have been equal to the effort, but his slip on the goalline meant that the header, almost straight at him, allowed Metz to level.

Saint-Étienne, who played the game at a higher intensity throughout, continued to look the most dangerous and they got their reward late on. Cardona, who has eight goals in 19 games in Ligue 2 since his arrival, beat Oukidja to a ball into the Metz box and headed into the empty net. Les Verts therefore have a one-goal advantage heading into the second leg and are on the verge of a return to Ligue 1.

GFFN | Luke Entwistle