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St-Étienne held to fifth draw by Qarabağ

AS Saint-Étienne 1-1 Qarabağ FK
A sublime Vüqar Nadirov lob and some fine Ibrahim Šehić saves helped Qarabağ earn a draw that leaves them within a win of the last 32.

St-Étienne's Ricky van Wolfswinkel celebrates his equaliser against Qarabağ
St-Étienne's Ricky van Wolfswinkel celebrates his equaliser against Qarabağ ©AFP/Getty Images

Vüqar Nadirov's sublime lob gives the visitors a 15th-minute lead
Ricky van Wolfswinkel quickly equalises as hosts record fifth straight draw
Qarabağ go second thanks to superior head-to-head record against Les Verts
Next games: Dnipro v St-Étienne, Qarabağ v Inter (11 December)

AS Saint-Étienne and Qarabağ FK both remain in contention for the UEFA Europa League knockout stages following a 1-1 draw in France.

Knowing a first Group F win would leave Les Verts handily placed, boss Christophe Galtier fielded his strongest XI. Yet their plans suffered an early setback when Vüqar Nadirov brilliantly lobbed Stéphane Ruffier to open the scoring just 15 minutes in at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.

The Azerbaijani visitors' goal came against the run of play and six minutes later the hosts redressed the balance. When Ibrahim Šehić pushed out Romain Hamouma's half-volley, Ricky van Wolfswinkel, who had passed up an earlier opportunity, pounced on the loose ball to score his first UEFA competition goal for the Ligue 1 outfit.

The offside flag dampened celebrations when the on-loan Norwich City FC forward then craftily flicked in moments before the break. There was no flag to spare the Dutch striker's blushes with two more excellent chances spurned to reflect his side's territorial dominance and give them the lead.

Almost exclusively on the back foot after the interval, Qarabağ were indebted to a touch of good fortune and some good keeping for earning them a point. A goalbound Fabien Lemoine shot was deflected over while Šehić athletically tipped away drives from Kévin Théophile-Catherine and Moustapha Bayal Sall, in addition to a late Max-Alain Gradel free-kick.

It leaves Qarabağ in pole position to join section winners and matchday six visitors FC Internazionale Milano in the knockout stages.