Gradel makes late point
St Etienne's Max Gradel scored a stoppage-time penalty to deny Nice a first win in three games with a 1-1 draw.
Last Updated: 06/04/14 3:38pm
St Etienne's Max Gradel scored a stoppage-time penalty to deny Nice a first win in three games with a 1-1 draw at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.
All three points looked to be heading back to the south coast courtesy of Mathieu Bodmer's solitary strike, but in the last minute Didier Digard was sent off for a handball in the area and Ivory Coast international Gradel made no mistake from 12 yards.
A point for Christophe Galtier's team does little to help their Champions League aspirations, leaving them five points behind third-placed Lille.
The hosts ran out 4-0 winners in the same fixture last term, but a similar scoreline looked unlikely following a poor opening 45 minutes.
In fact, it was not until after the half-hour mark that either goalkeeper was made to work as Nice's Valentin Eysseric tried his luck with a 30-yard free-kick, but the young midfielder's effort flew straight into the arms of Stephane Ruffier.
The visitors were forced into a change as half-time approached when Alexys Bosetti, the recipient of a few heavy tackles, was carried off with an ankle problem before Les Verts fashioned the best chance of the half.
Josuha Guilavogui found space on the right of the area, but saw his powerful effort kept out by David Ospina, while Brandao was unable to control the rebound, allowing Nice's keeper to gather.
St Etienne came out fired up for the second half, with Fabien Lemoine going close early on, but, after riding the early storm, it was Nice who drew first blood.
Playing against his former club, Bodmer escaped Guilavogui from Digard's corner and flicked a header beyond a helpless Ruffier to score his second of the season.
Bodmer continued to impress for the hosts and could easily have grabbed his second, but his near-post flick from Eysseric's free-kick was superbly kept out by Ospina.
Brandao fluffed his lines once again at the other, heading wide from Gradel's delivery before being flagged for offside.
St Etienne should have levelled, but were denied by stunning stop from Ospina when Loic Perrin's header seemed destined for the corner.
They finally broke through in injury time, though. Guilavogui saw his shot handled in the area by Digard and, after pointing at the spot, referee Antony Gautier gave the Nice captain his marching orders.
Substitute Gradel took charge of the spot-kick and, despite Ospina going the right way, the former Leeds man put enough on it to beat the Colombian.