Erdinc plays starring role
Mevlut Erdinc starred as St Etienne kept alive their Champions League hopes with a comfortable 3-1 win at Nantes.
Last Updated: 10/05/14 11:40pm
Mevlut Erdinc starred as St Etienne kept alive their hopes of qualifying for next season's Champions League with a comfortable 3-1 win at Nantes.
Erdinc scored twice in the first half and earned the penalty that Max Gradel converted in between as the visitors were three goals to the good before half-time.
Serge Gakpe reduced the deficit nine minutes from time but St Etienne comfortably held on and they will head into their final game of the season at home to already-relegated Ajaccio two points behind third-placed Lille, who were beaten by Paris St Germain on Saturday and face a trickier fixture on the last day of their campaign at Lorient.
While Lille will still be favourites to seal third spot and a spot in the Champions League third qualifying round, Christophe Galtier's men have at least kept the race going until the final day of the season.
They were rampant in the first half and were a goal up inside 10 minutes when Turkey striker Erdinc headed home from Gradel's inch-perfect cross.
Les Verts were nearly pegged back and only an excellent Stephane Ruffier save from Banel Nicolita's powerful 25-yard free-kick kept them ahead.
St Etienne then doubled their lead midway through the half when Gradel sent Remy Riou the wrong way from the spot after Koffi Djidji had brought down Erdinc in the box.
Erdinc then all but ended the match as a contest on the stroke of half-time with a sublime lob over a helpless Riou.
Nantes dominated proceedings in the opening stages after the interval, with Ruffier pushing Itay Shechter's strike wide before Lucas Deaux's header from Nicolita's cannoned back off the post.
Ruffier again denied Nantes with a magnificent save to deny Gakpe but the St Etienne goalkeeper was finally beaten when the Togo forward netted from Nicolita's cross with the goal gaping.
It mattered little to the result, however, with St Etienne holding on to secure all three points.