Saint-Etienne can bite his fingers. In front of the score since the 15th minute, the Greens fell asleep afterwards and they finally paid it. They were joined by resourceful Auxerrois, who equalized at the end of the match thanks to a nice goal from Gaëtan Perrin (86th), Thursday, May 26, during the first leg of Ligue 1 (1-1). Inconstant offensively and feverish behind, ASSE delivered a performance in line with a gloomy season from start to finish. Even with the advantage of the away goal, it will take much more on Sunday’s return to stay in the top flight.
— AJ Auxerre (@AJA) May 26, 2022
We cannot blame the Stéphanois for not being consistent. Even put into orbit by a nice early goal from Zaydou Youssouf, the Greens have never really mastered their subject. Their scoring opportunities were more consecutive to the risks taken by the Auxerre defense than to their offensive genius. On arrival, this lack of efficiency from Khazri, Bouanga or Nordin could prove detrimental. And this, especially since it combines with a disconcerting defensive feverishness.
Back in a scheme with four defenders, the Foréziens sometimes lacked benchmarks. Often clumsy, the people of Icaun took time to take advantage of it. But their last quarter of an hour, punctuated by a subtle sequence of Gaëtan Perrin (86th), showed the resources of a AJA very enterprising. While we thought the Auxerrois were physically tough after their extended playoffs against Sochaux (0-0, 5-4 on pens), they finally found an unexpected second wind to come back.
Analyzing this return of the Auxerrois through the prism of a Saint-Etienne air hole is not wrong either, as Saint-Etienne plunged in the second period. The coaching of Pascal Dupraz, with the early entries of several technical leaders like Wahbi Khazri or Riyad Boudebouz, did not really improve the pale copy of a team with an uneven background. Worse, AJA’s goal came three minutes after the switch to five defenders.
Thanks to an away goal rule still in force, the Greens have, at least, an advantage before the return. But their recent outings in the Cauldron (three defeats in four games) and the robustness of the Auxerre obstacle call for extreme caution. “We see a lot of comebacks at the moment, you have to be careful”, recalled Boudebouz after the match. The people of Saint-Etienne will remain in apnea for at least three days.