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Saint-Etienne coach Christophe Galtier labelled his players "a team of men" after they reached the final of the Coupe de la Ligue on penalties.
ASSE controlled their semi-final against Lille throughout but a determined performance from goalkeeper Steeve Elana ensured the match went to a shoot-out.
Idrissa Gueye missed the crucial penalty to send St Etienne through 7-6 and book the club's first ever Stade de France final against the winner of Wednesday's match between Rennes and Montpellier.
"We have a team of men," Galtier told reporters. "We came across a good goalkeeper but overall we played good football, we were very dynamic and we pushed forward.
"The players prepared for the match in the best possible way, but then they showed they were men on the pitch.
"The goal was at least to get to the Stade de France and now we will see what happens there."
Saint-Etienne had to sweat for their progress as Elana made excellent first-half saves from Yohan Mollo and Fabien Lemoine, while Brandao missed the first of many good chances on a dismal night for him personally.
Early in the second half, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was denied at point-blank range by Elana and then by the Lille defence, while Marko Basa blocked Mollo's shot.
Brandao let another clear chance slip away when he failed to convert after good work by Lemoine. Shortly afterwards, the Brazilian was substituted and stormed straight down the tunnel.
His replacement Renaud Cohade was denied by Elana but Lille could have snatched victory late on when former ASSE midfielder Dimitri Payet fired against the outside of the post.
"I am really proud of my players. I have a lot of emotions," Galtier said.
"Everyone has a smile. If we can give happiness and pride to be supporters of AS Saint-Etienne it is a good thing."
Lille boss Rudi Garcia felt the penalty defeat was rough justice on his side, although admitted they failed to test ASSE's defence often enough.
"It's cruel but that's the Cup," he said.
"We had our finger on qualification, but we did not have enough punch in attack throughout even though we were very good defensively."