Saint-Etienne against Bordeaux is always a close and tight encounter and Thursday night’s game was no different. Despite going behind away from home it was Bordeaux defender, Tiago Ilori, on loan from Liverpool, which helped Les Girondins steal a point away from the Stade Geoffrey-Guichard. His 39th minute equaliser takes Bordeaux to 13 points, level with Les Verts and Paris Saint-Germain and three points behind leader Marseille.
Ilori’s goal came just eight minutes after the away side had gone behind to a neat volley from Ricky van Wolfswinkel. The striker, on loan from Norwich City did well to get in front of Ilori’s partner, Nicolas Pallois, before turning Franck Tabanou’s excellent cross towards the near post and Cedric Carrasso couldn’t keep the shot out.
That was Van Wolfswinkel’s first goal since the 17th of August when he equalised in the 2-2 draw against Everton and his first since joining Saint-Etienne on loan from Norwich City. The Dutch striker was only starting his second game for his new club and will be delighted to score in front of the passionate home fans. Coach Christophe Galtier will be hoping that it can spark a run of form in the striker, although he will still play second fiddle to Turkish striker Mevlut Erding.
There was nothing Ilori could do about the opening goal, but he would be the player to bring his side back into the game. Bordeaux’s corner from the right was cleared to the edge of the box, but Pallois did well to turn it towards the back post. After taking a wicked bounce inside the area, it dropped on the head of Ilori and the centre-back guided it past Ruffier.
Both Pallois and Ilori played well for the rest of the game, keeping the more dominant home side at bay. Club captain Ludovic Sané missed out on Thursday night and with Coach Willy Sagnol preferring to play four at the back, and Sané’s poor performance in the midfield against Guingamp, it will be interesting to see what duo get the nod for home game against Rennes on Sunday.
Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers will be hoping that Ilori picks up as many first-team starts as possible, but it is also promising for both club and player that there is healthy competition for places at Bordeaux. Ilori is good enough to start, but with Sané and Pallois looking very accomplished, it will be a great battle throughout the season.