The Coupe de France reached the last 16 stage this week and Norwich City’s Ricky van Wolfswinkel was the catalyst in helping Saint-Etienne reach the quarter-finals of France’s famous cup competition.
The Ligue 1 side were taking on Red Star FC from the third tier, Championnat National, and it was the Norwich City loanee that got Les Verts off to a great start.
Yohan Mollo curled in a right-foot free-kick, the Dutch striker made a run near post and he was able to get enough contact on the ball to stab it past the Parisian side’s goalkeeper. Question marks have to be asked of the ‘keeper, he seemed to pull out of the challenge, allowing Van Wolfswinkel to get the contact.
That goal took his tally in the Coupe de France to three and eight for the season. His all-round play has been impressive and he looks to have shaken off the demons from his time at Norwich. It will remain to be seen if Saint-Etienne think he has done enough to justify a permanent move to France in the summer.
Van Wolfswinkel was involved again as Julien Ielsch went in high to the Dutchman’s knee, he was shown a red card, making the third division side’s task even harder.
The home side gave themselves a lifeline just minutes later, former Fulham and Watford forward Hameur Bouazza rocketed a left-foot shot beyond Stephane Ruffier.
The 10-men of Red Star couldn’t hold on. Yohan Mollo got lucky when his pass in the second half was deflected into the bottom corner after ‘keeper Julien Hergault was wrong footed expecting the cross.
Saint-Etienne were comfortable until the end and would leave Paris with the 2-1 victory. Wednesday’s draw for the quarter-finals would see Les Verts paired up against another side from the third division in US Boulogne.
Christophe Galtier’s side would now be one of the favourites to make it to at least the semi-final. What a story it would be if Ricky van Wolfswinkel could go from goalless at Norwich to cup hero at Saint-Etienne.