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Ligue 1: Saint-Etienne salvage precious point after angry fans delay kick off

Saint-Etienne, France: Saint-Etienne stayed winless and last in Ligue 1 but salvaged a point against visiting Angers with a late fightback in a match delayed for an hour by protests from angry home fans.

After mid-table Angers proved the fans’ point by grabbing a two-goal lead, Saint-Etienne fought back with Mickael Nade scoring a late, late equaliser.

He made the final score 2-2 five minutes into added time, or 65 minutes after the final whistle was originally scheduled to blow.

The match had been held back by a pitch invasion during the player warm-up.

It was only the latest in a series of incidents involving fans in and around Ligue 1 games this season started

Home supporters unfurled banners, let off a barrage of rockets and smoke bombs and ran onto the field, damaging the goals.

The banners attacked coach Claude Puel, club leadership and the players.

“We’ve had enough talk, you’re making us crack” said one visible through the smoke.

“Puel resign”, “management resign” and “we want a team worthy of its fans” chanted the fans.

The players left the field and kick off was put back as municipal workers repaired the nets at the city-owned Geoffroy-Guichard stadium.

On Thursday, fans hung a banner on the gates of the training centre which said: “Puel, you have 24 hours to resign”.

The latest incidents come just two days after the league disciplinary committee imposed a two-match suspended closure of the stadium’s south stand after incidents during the derby against Lyon on 3 October.

A season of angry fans in France opened with a match between Nice and Marseille abandoned on 22 August.

That was followed by a string of incidents in September.

The northern derby between Lens and Lille was overshadowed by a pitch invasion that delayed the start of the second half.

The next weekend, supporters invaded the pitch at the game between Angers and Marseille, while stones were thrown at a bus taking Bordeaux fans to their match in Montpellier, with 16 suffering minor injuries.

Nice were deducted a point. Lens were ordered to play home matches behind closed doors.

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