The game: 2-0
After three draws in a row, including two brought back to the tenors of this Ligue 2 (1-1 in Bordeaux and 2-2 in Le Havre), the Greens tasted victory again on Saturday afternoon, thanks to a double ‘Ibrahima Waji. It was awaited by the 24,284 supporters present in the Cauldron (minus 64 Niortais), – attendance record for the season beaten – as Niort, red lantern at kick-off, presented itself reduced by five absences, including those of its artificer Bilal Boutobba (10 goals and 2 assists) and former Marseille midfielder and Burkinabe international, Charles Kaboré (35 years old, 102 caps). Both were suspended.
This victory, AS Saint-Étienne sought to build it from a first period removed, during which the two teams went blow for blow. Or almost. The Greens, relying on their possession game. The Chamois from Niort, counting on their counterattacks and set pieces. But both missed narrowly in front of goal. Saint-Étienne only targeted two of his fourteen shots, by Bouchouari (6th) then Cafaro from a tight angle (15th), in the first period.
And when the announcer rushed to announce « buuuuut », the referee refused it for an offside position by Nkounkou (21st). On the Niort side, the promising and giant Ryan Bakayoko (21) also failed to fit (1st, 24th, 30th). And when it was the case of Bernard, Flemmings deflected his shot out of goal (20th).
The second period, started under a nasty drizzle Forézien, finally saw the Greens open the scoring by the incoming Wadji (51st). Krasso having found a way to shoot his penalty over in stride (52nd), ASSE remained under threat from the Chamois Niortais. Until the double from Wadji, author of his eighth goal of the season in L2, on receiving a long raid in his left lane from Nkounkou (71st). A rescue from Cafaro on the line on a header from Kilama (84th) consolidated a victory that was long in the making but ultimately logical. For the Stéphanois, as for the Niortais, this result risks weighing heavily in the quest for maintenance. Like the timid sun returning at the final whistle, the sky has however cleared somewhat for the Greens.
The fact: the explosive entry of Wadji
Relegated to the bench at kick-off, Ibrahima Wadji took advantage of Kader Bamba’s injury to make an explosive entry at the start of the second period. Launched by Krasso, he first and finally opened the scoring for the Greens with a shot from the right under the bar (51st). On the Niortaise throw-in, Cafaro, in turn, threw him into the depths. Jostled in the area by the excellent Kilama until then, the Senegalese obtained a penalty, shot above by Krasso (52nd). Then, he offered himself a double, his first in the Saint-Etienne jersey, ahead of Kilama (71st).
The number: 8
Unbeaten since January 31 and a trip to Bastia (0-2), the Greens stretch their unbeaten streak in Ligue 2 to eight matches (five wins and three draws).