Saint-Etienne sack Puel after Rennes thrashing

SAINT-ETIENNE: Saint-Etienne’s French coach Claude Puel reacts during the French L1 football match between AS Saint-Etienne and Stade Rennais FC at the Geoffrey Guichard stadium Saint-Etienne, central France on December 5, 2021. – AFP

PARIS: Claude Puel became the first Ligue 1 coach to be dismissed this season after bottom side Saint-Etienne suffered a 5-0 loss at home to Rennes on Sunday. The former Monaco, Lyon and Leicester City boss paid the price for winning just two of 17 matches this term, leaving Saint-Etienne behind Metz on goal difference at the foot of the table. Saint-Etienne released a statement that said Puel had been relieved of his duties in charge of the first team until further notice. He will meet with club management on Monday.

It effectively brings an end to Puel’s two-year spell in charge at a club that was put up for sale in April. Rennes heaped more misery on Saint-Etienne as Martin Terrier scored his first career hat-trick. A comical own goal by Yvann Macon and a late strike by 17-year-old Lesley Ugochukwu completed the rout. “That really hurts,” Saint-Etienne midfielder Zaydou Youssouf told Prime Video. “It is a disaster, to lose 5-0 at home is unacceptable, we have no right to lose like that. “We have to show a different side to ourselves because that was rubbish.”

Rennes reclaimed second place as they rebounded convincingly from a midweek loss to Lille — the only defeat in their past 15 matches in all competitions – but still trail leaders Paris Saint-Germain by 11 points. Bruno Genesio’s team face a near impossible task of catching PSG, although the Qatar-owned club are hardly playing like a side filled with superstars. PSG needed an injury-time equaliser by Dutch international Georginio Wijnaldum on Saturday to draw 1-1 with Lens, their second draw in as many matches.

Nice lost at home for the third game in a row as they went down 3-0 to Strasbourg. Ludovic Ajorque gave Strasbourg a first-half lead before Habib Diallo and Adrien Thomasson added late goals. “Today was the worst of the lot,” said Nice midfielder Mario Lemina. “I can’t explain it in the heat of the moment, and it’s better that I don’t. “I’m so angry and we’ll sort it out internally. We have to put our heads back in the right place and rediscover that warrior spirit. We’re off track right now.”

Monaco are level on points with Strasbourg in seventh after thumping Metz 4-0. Sofiane Diop struck early for Monaco before Kevin Volland converted a penalty. Gelson Martins and Wissam Ben Yedder were also on target for Niko Kovac’s side. Lyon drew 2-2 away to Bordeaux, keeping Peter Bosz’s team in 12th place in what has been a middling first season in charge for the Dutchman. The visitors twice led through goals from Jason Denayer and Thiago Mendes, but a Malo Gusto own goal and Alberth Elis effort earned a point for Bordeaux. Nantes won 1-0 at Lorient to snap a five-game winless run and Montpellier beat Clermont by the same scoreline, while Angers defeated Reims 2-1. – AFP

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