Chelsea new-boy Zouma shines as Saint-Etienne move third

Kurt Zouma

Saint-Etienne draw 0-0 away at Toulouse on Friday night, the point moves them above Lille into third.

New Chelsea signing, Kurt Zouma played the full 90 minutes for Saint-Etienne on Friday night as his side recorded a 0-0 draw away at Toulouse. The solitary point takes them ahead of Lille in third on goal-difference and the clean sheet is their seventh in eight league games.

Zouma signed for Chelsea on deadline day for around €12 million and will remain on loan at Les Verts before joining his new club in the summer. The 19-year-old will be hoping to finish his time in France on a high, and helping Saint-Etienne qualify for the Champions League qualifiers would be the perfect ending. According to stats website Who Scored, Zouma finished the game as Man of the Match: making a game-high 23 clearances.

The Sainté defence has only conceded two goals since mid-December, and that impressive form has seen them close the nine-point gap Lille held before the winter break and makes them favourites to push on to finish the season in third.

It was a game bereft of many great chances, new loanee signing Benoit Tremoulinas got the away side’s first shot on target just before the 20 minute mark, but Toulouse fellow new recruit Zacharie Boucher, who was again preferred to former U21 international Ali Ahamada, was in the right position to block the shot.

If Saint-Etienne wants to hold onto that third spot, they are going to need a drastic upturn in form in-front of goal. Without the talents of Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Christophe Galtier’s forwards have struggled to find the back of the net. It has been up to his midfielders to carry the can for most of the season.

Former Toulouse midfielder Franck Tabanou went close to scoring against his old team, but his shot from inside the area lacked the power to beat Boucher. Tabanou then turned creator for Saint-Etienne’s best chance, laying a chance to Mevlut Erding, but the Turkish striker couldn’t turn his shot on target. The miss summed up a sloppy and forgettable encounter.

The point moves Les Verts on to 41 points, with a goal difference of +11; Lille, who play Sochaux at home on Saturday night are on +10 and will hope to reclaim third spot with a win over the side currently second bottom. Toulouse move up to 12th, but could drop to 15th after the rest of the league play this weekend, but they have a game in hand on Tuesday, at home to Bastia. Anything but a win could see Alain Casanova’s side sucked towards the dreaded relegation battle.

images: © KevFB, © KevFB

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