Wahbi Khazri and Denis Bouanga scored either side of half-time as Saint-Etienne secured a precious win in their battle against relegation when they travelled to fellow strugglers Nîmes on Sunday.
At kick-off, Claude Puel's men were just three points clear of their opponents, who had slipped into the bottom three courtesy of Lorient's Breton derby win over Brest earlier in the day.
Saint-Etienne had lost three of their previous four while Nîmes had gone four unbeaten at their Stade des Costières home — Charles Abi could have put them on the back foot early on, but the visiting centre-forward narrowly failed to connect with Miguel Trauco's low cross (17').
Instead, it was Khazri who opened the scoring, finding space on the edge of the penalty area before firing high past Baptiste Reynet after Abi had teed him up (23'). Moussa Koné thought he had pulled the hosts level before the break but after beating debutant goalkeeper Etienne Green, the offside flag cut short his delight (39').
Bouanga brought a fine save from Reynet (41') before Zinedine Ferhat was denied by Green as the pair exchanged chances either side of the break (47'). Another Reynet save kept out Bouanga again (50') and Adil Aouchiche then hit the crossbar (55') before Bouanga finally broke through — the Gabon international smashing home a sublime effort from distance to double his team's lead (66').
Romain Hamouma had a goal ruled out (69') before Green gave away a penalty diving at the feet of Karim Aribi — the 20-year-old English-born goalkeeper kept out Renaud Ripart's spot-kick (87') to earn a memorable debut clean sheet and lift his side seven points clear of the bottom three.
THE PLAYER: Denis Bouanga
The Saint-Etienne forward was his usual busy self, and would have had a hatful of goals but for Reynet, who pushed him hard as the stand-out performer in the match.
THE STAT: 11
Saint-Etienne are unbeaten in their last 11 Ligue 1 visits to Nîmes, this was their fourth win in that series.
Elsewhere, Laurent Abergel's goal just before half-time was enough to give Lorient a 1-0 win at home to Brest and lift Christophe Pelissier's men out of the bottom three. Stephy Mavididi got Montpellier's goal in their 1-1 draw at Angers, while there were five first-half goals at the Matmut Atlantique where Strasbourg came out on top against Bordeaux 3-2. Serhou Guirassy scored twice as Rennes drew 2-2 at Reims while Kasper Dolberg did the same in Nice's 2-1 victory at Nantes.