Tears as Saint-Etienne slip in race for Europe

Paris (AFP) –


There were bitter tears of regret as Saint-Etienne missed the chance to leapfrog Lyon in Ligue 1 on Friday when their unbeaten streak was broken in a 1-0 home defeat to Montpellier.

Saint-Etienne had been homing in on a first ever appearance in the Champions League and had the chance to go third ahead of Lyon who face a tough clash with Marseille on Sunday.

But Remy Cabella, who helped Montpellier win the title in 2012 and kept them up in 2017 before his switch to Saint-Etienne, was left in tears as he was sent off just after the hour and then watched from the tunnel as the visitors went ahead with a thundering left footed drive from Gaetan Laborde.

The goal came on 64 minutes as temperatures rose in a typically passionate Saint-Etienne stadium with a red card for either side followed quickly by the winning goal.

Paris Saint-Germain are top of Ligue 1 with 85 points, Lille are second on 69, Lyon third on 63 and Saint-Etienne fourth on 62 having played a game more.

Saint-Etienne, who had won six and drawn one of their last seven outings, are France's most decorated club with 10 league titles and six French Cups but their last major trophy came way back in 1981, when -- led by Michel Platini -- they last finished top of the pile.

Elsewhere on Friday, Brest were promoted to Ligue 1 thanks to a 3-0 win at Niort, and will join Metz, already assured promotion, in the top flight nbext season.

Authorities also revealed Friday that the final day of Ligue 1 action would be moved forwards from Saturday, May 25, to the Friday evening so as to avoid clashing with possible demonstrations by the so called 'Yellow Vests'.