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St Etienne fall just short of CL

St Etienne finished a fine season with a convincing victory over relegated Ajaccio but will have to settle for Europa League football after Lille won 4-1 at Lorient to secure the final Champions League berth.

Although there will be disappointment at falling two points short of the bigger goal, St Etienne can reflect on an excellent campaign after securing their 20th victory.

Loic Perrin bagged a brace either side of Mevlut Erding's goal but the outstanding Max-Alain Gradel missed a penalty before Issa Baradji and Ajaccio bid farewell to the top flight with a goal deep in stoppage time.

As might have been predicted given their relative form, St Etienne dominated proceedings and created a string of chances.

Erding had the first two, seeing an early volley blocked by Guillermo Ochoa before being denied again when through one-on-one with the goalkeeper.

Perrin broke the deadlock in the 19th minute, heading home a superb cross from Gradel on the left.

Erding was frustrated again soon after when Benjamin Corgnet picked him out unmarked but the header was straight at the goalkeeper.

However, he got his goal 10 minutes before the break, turning home Gradel's cross.

This effectively settled the match as a contest, with far fewer chances in the second half.

Ochoa denied Erding once more in the 54th minute, but that was about it until Perrin scrambled home the third after Gradel's corner sparked chaos in the Ajaccio area.

Four minutes later they had a penalty when Grenddy Perozo felled Erding, but Gradel's shot hit a post.

Ajaccio sparked into life just as the match was finishing, with Stephane Ruffier blocking Paul Lasne's shot before Baradji fired in from close range.


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