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Saint-Etienne (France) (AFP) – Saint-Etienne, one of France’s biggest clubs, were relegated from Ligue 1 on Sunday after losing a penalty shootout in their play-off against Auxerre, who return to the top flight after a 10-year absence.
Their defeat was met with a pitch invasion by angry Saint-Etienne supporters and the intervention of French police who used tear gas to stem the trouble.
Saint-Etienne, who finished third from bottom in Ligue 1, had already drawn 1-1 in the first leg of their play-off against Auxerre in Ligue 2.
Sunday’s second leg at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard also ended 1-1, with Saint-Etienne’s Mahdi Camara canceling out Hamza Sakhi’s opener.
With the scores at 2-2, the draw turned into a penalty shootout which Auxerre beat 5-4 with goalkeeper Donovan Leon making a crucial save to prevent Ryad Boudebou.
As soon as Birama Touré converted the final penalty to win the draw, the Saint-Etienne supporters invaded the pitch and launched flares towards the official stand.
Players from both teams took refuge in the locker room, but Prime Video TV footage from the tunnel showed players, stewards and staff coughing from tear gas used by police on the pitch to disperse the invaders.
Saint-Etienne has already been penalized several times this season for the behavior of its supporters and this match was played from a closed stand following incidents during the match against Monaco at the end of April.
The result marks the end of a nightmarish season for the 10-time French champions who now face serious financial difficulties as they return to Ligue 2 for the first time since promotion in 2004.
© 2022 AFP