Surprise package St Etienne clinch first major trophy for 32 years

Matthew Riding
St Etienne have won their f 300x225 Surprise package St Etienne clinch first major trophy for 32 years

Brandao celebrates his goal in the League Cup final

St Etienne have won their first major trophy for 32 years after beating Rennes in the final of the French League Cup.

Brandao’s strike proved the difference in the 1-0 victory and the former European Cup runners-up have been rewarded with a place in next year’s Europa League play-offs.

Brandao – who has been labelled a ‘leader’ by St Etienne manager Christophe Galtier – claimed his fourth successive French League Cup title having won the competition for the previous three years with Marseille.

After the match, Brandao revelled in the joys of winning the trophy: “The whole squad made it. I’m very happy for the team, for all the fans. It was very important for St Etienne.

“When I sign for a team, I want to win trophies. I told them we had to seek a trophy when I joined.”

The 32-year-old made his name at Shakhtar Donetsk, scoring 91 goals in 220 games. His prolific form attracted the attention of Marseille who signed the striker for an undisclosed fee believed to be in the region of €7million. After giving the Marseille faithful many happy memories including an extra-time winner in the 2012 League Cup final, Brandao was released last summer and snapped up by St Etienne.

At the time of Brandao’s signature, St Etienne were searching for a strike partner to compliment star forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The 10-time Ligue 1 champions pondered moves for former Liverpool man David Ngog and flirted with the idea of signing Guillaume Hoarau from PSG, but both moves fell through.

Brandao was the man St Etienne went with and since signing, the Sao Paulo born striker has linked up well with Aubameyang and it was the pair who combined for the match winner in the cup final on Saturday in Paris. After good work down the left from Aubameyang, the 23-year-old crossed with the outside of his right foot for Brandao to finish from six yards out.

The pair’s link up play sent half of the Stade de France into raptures and gave the St Etienne fans a taste of former glory days.

Although trophy-less for over 30 years, this season St Etienne are challenging for a Champions League spot and their success in the French League Cup is an example of their progression as a team and a club.

Sitting five points off Marseille in third place with a game in hand, Galtier’s side have a real chance of gaining a top three position that will give them the opportunity of competing in the Champions League for the first time ever.

If they have any chance of holding on to Aubameyang - who has been linked with Newcastle United, Chelsea and Arsenal  - Champions League qualification is a must and with Marseille’s form falling away as the season nears its finale, St Etienne have a real opportunity of achieving what many people thought at the start of the season was impossible.

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