I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for St Etienne, so I was hopeful I’d be able to watch them into the Europa League. As it was, we were out on Thursday evening, but I managed to catch extra-time which, being half an hour in length, is enough to garner a report here; moreso given that it went to penalties.
So what happened? St Etienne pressed. They worked the ball forward cautiously, as befits a team who know they need just one goal, but will be killed if they concede. Indeed, Karabukspor had a couple of opportunities on the break that would have seen Les Verts out of Europe.
Generally, though, the tide was taking St Etienne forward – their best chance came from a corner, a header that flashed only inches to the right hand side of the post – and the French side looked the most likely.
Come penalties, the nerves looked with the Turkish side, almost as if they’d played their game to get them there and that was their big chance. With that taken into account, its no surprise that Les Verts went through. I’m writing this a week or so after the game, and my memory of it is hazy at best – it was not memorable, even the penalty shootout was more a matter of Karabukspor missing and St Etienne keeping their heads. Routine despite the tension, in other words. More is sure to follow, though the exertions obviously tired St Etienne out – they got smashed 5-0 at the weekend.
Entertainment factor? 5/10.