Saint-Etienne (AFP)

Lens confirmed its European ambitions by moving up to fifth place thanks to its 3-2 success in Saint-Étienne on Wednesday on the 28th day of Ligue 1, and once again sowed doubt among Stéphanois beaten for the second time in a row.

After a disappointing month of February and only one victory, against Dijon (2-1), the Lensois started their March well and confirmed the mental resources interviewed during the draw snatched in extra time last Sunday in Angers (2- 2).

In Saint-Étienne, the upturn has vanished.

After a series of five games without defeat, the Greens suffered another setback after the slap suffered in Lorient where they had led 1-0 before losing 2-1.

The Stéphanois have sometimes shown heart but remain 16th and provisionally five points from the place of jump-off.

Without Gaël Kakuta, the Sang et Or could count on their other offensive weapons, the inevitable Florian Sotoca, scorer for the eighth time this season in the league, and Arnaud Kalimuendo, already author of the equalizer at the SCO.

It was he who took Harold Moukoudi speed and pushed the Stéphanois to the fault in the box.

In Kakuta's absence, Florian Sotoca took charge of the penalty.

A strong strike that Jessy Moulin touched but could only accompany at the back of his net (1-0, 20th).

Five minutes later, the Greens goalkeeper saw a shot from Kalimuendo pass between his legs (2-0, 24th).

- Intense end of the match -

First knocked out by these two goals in quick succession, Claude Puel's men raised their heads in the image of Mathieu Debuchy on a distant and powerful strike (36th).

Then Moukoudi, at fault on the penalty, turned into a scorer as against Lorient, leaving Jean-Louis Leca helpless on a crossed header on receipt of a corner (2-1, 40th).

Returning from the locker room, after a change of referee, Amaury Delerue, victim of a muscle injury having given way to Azzedine Souifi, the posts played the spoilsport.

The strikes of Charles Abi for Saint-Etienne (53rd) and Massadio Haïdara for Lens (56th) have thus found the amounts.

Moulin then deprived Sotoca of a double by pushing back the shot of the Lensois (65th).

The Greens pushed to snatch the equalizer in added time but were punished on a counter by the young David Pereira Da Costa, 20, entered in the 75th minute (3-1, 90 + 3).

In an intense end to the match, the Greens reduced the mark on a penalty from Denis Bouanga (3-2, 90 + 5), after a hand from Facundo Medina.

A "European" shock against Metz (6th) awaits Lens during the next day, while Saint-Etienne will travel to Angers before the very complicated reception of Monaco.

© 2021 AFP