AS Saint-Étienne have lifted their maiden French Coupe de la Ligue – and their first major domestic trophy in 32 years – after defeating Stade Rennais FC 1-0 in the final at Stade de France.
Article top media content
AS Saint-Étienne have been crowned French Coupe de la Ligue champions for the first time in their history after overcoming Stade Rennais FC 1-0 in the Stade de France showpiece.
Scorer in this final last season for Olympique de Marseille, Brandão's 18th-minute goal clinched the trophy, which represents the first piece of major domestic silverware St-Étienne have won since their French league title in 1981. It also caps an impressive season for Les Verts in which a UEFA Champions League qualification berth is within their grasp.
Rennes struggled to cope with St-Étienne's dynamic attacking duo, Brandão and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and the pair combined excellently for the opener. Slipped in down the left, Aubameyang burst on and crossed exquisitely with the outside of his right foot beyond the fingertips of goalkeeper Benoît Costil to the back post, where Brandão tucked in. There was almost a repeat before the break, as Aubameyang dazzled down the right, but Costil clawed past the post Brandão's effort from his partner's centre.
The second half began at a breathless pace with the sides trading corners and St-Étienne almost profited, but Jonathan Pitroipa cleared François Clerc's effort off the line. Rennes came to life at set pieces themselves and John Boye proved a real threat, forcing a good save with a powerful header midway through the second 45.
St-Étienne clung onto their advantage as the game reached the final stages, and Rennes turned the screw; a superb, angled Sadio Diallo volley notably forcing Stéphane Ruffier into a flying save. But a leveller evaded Rennes, and the green half of the stands were sent into raptures.
Les Verts coach Christophe Galtier hailed "the whole squad, technical and medical staff", and added: "We managed to recover after our loss [this week in French Cup quarter-finals] and that is the reason why we won."