Rennes near Europa League berth
© AFP

Rennes moved a step closer to a UEFA Europa League berth as Jerome Leroy's strike gave them 2-1 victory over Saint-Etienne at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard in Ligue 1.

Victor Montano gave the visitors an early lead before Bakary Sako levelled directly from a corner. But Leroy's ferocious effort sealed the win and consolidated fifth spot in the table for Rennes with two games remaining.

The result severely dented Les Verts' hopes of European football next season, though, as they remained four points behind sixth-placed Sochaux.

The visitors could not have got off to a better start as Montano drove forward from midfield to smash a powerful shot home, Saint-Etienne goalkeeper Jeremie Janot getting a hand to the ball, but failing to keep it out.

The hosts sought a rapid response and Sako's strike from distance was tipped to safety by Nicolas Douchez, while Loic Perrin skimmed the post with another effort. The leveller came in dramatic fashion as Sako's corner kick looped over the head of Douchez and went in at the far post.

The keeper's error did not prove costly though as Sylvain Monsoreau's cross saw Leroy control with his chest and smash the ball home just two minutes before the break.

Saint-Etienne enjoyed the better of the second half, with Alejandro Alonso coming closest to an equaliser as Douchez scrambled to keep out his header. Douchez also denied Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang before Boubacar Sanogo's header struck the outside of the post.