There were three French sides involved in the playoffs for both of Europe’s major two club tournaments, yet all three failed to shine.
Lille faced Porto in the Champions League playoff on Wednesday night but were defeated 1-0, with the Portuguese side gaining an important away goal.
On Thursday night’s Europa League playoffs, Lyon were surprise 2-1 losers at home to Romania’s FC Astra whilst St Etienne’s good start to the season was halted, losing 1-0 away to Kardemir Karabukspor of Turkey.
Lille put in a spirited performance against Porto with Rene Girard, the Lille manager, insisting that there wasn’t a gulf in class between the sides despite the dominance of possession from the Portuguese side.
Hector Herrera scored the only goal of the game in the 61st minute after Vincent Enyeama could only parry Jackson Martinez’s header into the Mexican’s path.
Both sides had chances in the first half with Lille’s Sebastian Corchia seeing two shots narrowly squeeze the wrong side of the framework.
Divock Origi missed a difficult header at the start of the second half before former Inter star Maicon produced two goal line clearances in the last fifteen minutes to maintain Porto’s advantage.
Porto manager Julen Lopetegui said after the game that his side played well but will have to improve ahead of next week’s second leg, as it will be a tough game for both sides.
A second half collapse saw Lyon throw away a 1-0 first half advantage with new signing Lindsay Rose being sent off before Clement Grenier gave away a penalty before leaving the field through injury which will require further surgery on his groin.
It was Grenier’s first appearance since returning from an initial groin injury which has ruled him out since the end of July. Steed Malbranque scored the first goal of the game in the 25th minute in a half that Lyon dominated before the side suffered a massive wobble.
Kehinde Fatia levelled the score with 20 minutes remaining before Astra captain Constantin Budescu scored from the penalty spot 10 minutes later.
Lyon’s Bakary Kone hit the bar and Grenier forced the Astra keeper into a desperate save in extra time but it wasn’t enough for the French side.
St Etienne were unable to capitalise on their first half dominance in Turkey, allowing their hosts to get back into the game. Once Kardemir Karabukspor found their feet, they punished the current Ligue 1 leaders.
Two defensive errors from captain Loic Perrin gave Dominick Kumbela the opportunity to snatch the game from St Etienne, which he took gleefully on the hour mark.
St Etienne had three chances to level the game, but were unable to find the all-important away goal.