Coupe de la Ligue: Saint-Etienne 1 Rennes 0
By Football News
Saint-Etienne have ended a 32-year wait for a major trophy with a 1-0 triumph over Rennes to claim France's Coupe de la Ligue.
A goal from striker Brandao midway through the first half was sufficient to separate the sides in a high-paced encounter that had plenty of goal-mouth action despite the scoreline.
Saint-Etienne lifted the Coupe de la Ligue for the first time in their history, claiming their first major trophy since winning the French league title in 1981, although the club did win France's second tier in 1999 and 2004.
The men in green dominated Rennes at the Stade de France on Saturday and deservedly took the lead in the 18th minute when Brandao finished off Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's cross.
Pressing high up the field, Renaud Cohade robbed the ball from the Bretons, allowing Yohan Mollo to slip a neat pass down the left channel for Aubameyang and the Gabonese striker hit a cross with the outside of his right foot to Brandao.
The Brazilian slotted the ball into an empty net after Rennes goalkeeper Benoit Costil had tried to intercept Aubameyang's cross.
A late volley from Rennes' Sadio Diallo nearly squared the match but Stephane Ruffier saved Saint-Etienne with a fine diving stop to his left.
For a period after they opened the scoring Saint-Etienne threatened to blast Rennes away as Fabien Lemoine sent a fizzing shot a foot too high before Aubameyang again crossed for Brandao, who was expertly denied by Costil.
Rennes' best chances for an equaliser came through substitute centre-back John Boye in the second half, steering a header just wide following a hopeful long ball into the box, before again showing his aerial power from a corner kick but Ruffier made the save.
Saint-Etienne's goalkeeper then did brilliantly to thwart Diallo with four minutes left and secure a long-awaited title for his club, much to the delight of their army of fans in Paris, securing European football for next season.