Saint-Etienne claimed their first silverware in 32 years this evening as Brandao's first-half volley secured a narrow 1-0 victory over Rennes in the Coupe de la Ligue final at the Stade de France.
The Brazilian striker turned home a cross from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the 18th minute to ensure Les Verts, without a major honour since winning the league title in 1981, will play European football next season.
It was the second straight year in which Brandao had scored the winner in the showpiece final, having netted the extra-time winner as a substitute for Marseille last season in a 1-0 win over Lyon. Rennes almost made the perfect start to the game, but Mevlut Erding's deflected shot inside 30 seconds was superbly palmed away by Stephane Ruffier.
Saint-Etienne were also inches away from taking the lead with just three minutes played of a high-tempo opening. Romain Danze met a corner with a right-footed volley from 12 yards but Benoit Costil was thankful to see the ball finish up the wrong side of his right post. Unsurprisingly, a goal did come early and it fell to Les Verts. Aubameyang was the creator, his superb cross with the outside of his right boot teeing up Brandao for a straightforward volley at the back post.
Not content with the one goal, Saint-Etienne continued to press in search of a second but Fabien Lemoine fired just over from the edge of the area before Costil saved brilliantly from a Brandao downward header. Les Verts continued to create chances in the second half, with Renaud Cohade guilty of blazing over before Francois Clerc saw his powerful goalbound header cleared off the line by Jonathan Pitroipa.
The Burkina Faso winger almost became a hero at the other end moments later but dragged a 20-yard shot just wide of the left post. Saint-Etienne were not having things all their own way, though, with substitute Cheick Diarra's aerial prowess causing problems for Christophe Galtier's men.
Twice the big Mali striker went close but he could only nod a deep ball just wide of the left post before heading a Julien Feret corner straight at Ruffier. With time running out Rennes continued to press for the all-important equaliser and Sadio Diallo was unfortunate to see his stunning first-time volley matched in quality by the save of Ruffier. Despite the late efforts of Les Rouges et Noirs, Saint-Etienne held out for a famous victory to send the green half of the Stade de France into a frenzy.