Les Verts return to winning ways
Saint-Etienne arrested a run of four straight defeats with an important 2-0 home win over Brest. Bakary Sako scored the first from the spot and Dimitri Payet added a late second. Les Verts moved provisionally back into the top six.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang enjoyed a rare run-out at centre-forward for Saint-Etienne and the Gabonese international drew a magnificent stop from Steeve Elana. Aubameyang connected brilliantly with a header from a free-kick from veteran Laurent Batlles. Elana produced a save right out of the top drawer, flinging himself to his right.
Christophe Galtier’s side won their penalty when Alejandro Alonso was adjudged to have been leaned on by Brahim Ferradj. Sako stepped up and finished left-footed high to Elana’s left. Brest coach Alex Dupont’s protests at the decision led to him being sent to the stands. From his new vantage point Dupont saw Bruno Grougi flash one wide as the Brittany club attempted to level.
Aubameyang had a great chance to make the game safe. He tried to round Elana. Off balance, the Brest goalkeeper all but turned his back on play and yet Aubameyang still managed to hit him rather than the back of the net. Soon after, Aubameyang steered a Sako cross wide of goal from the edge of the six-yard box when he had just Elana to beat.
Payet back on target
Substitute Payet used Aubameyang as a decoy runner when he strode forward and fired in from just outside the box. Elana got a hand to it but could not keep it out. It was the French international wide man’s first goal since Week 9.
Former table-toppers Saint-Etienne moved back into the top six ahead of the Sunday fixtures with Brest dropping one spot to 12th.