AS Saint-Etienne’s 2-1 win at Montpellier Hérault SC on Sunday effectively secured their top-flight survival for another year. Elsewhere FC Nantes claimed a big victory to boost their own hopes of avoiding relegation.
Montpellier Hérault SC 1-2 AS Saint-Etienne
Montpellier are now out of European contention and reports emerged before the game that coach Michel Der Zakarian is to leave the club at the end of the season. Nevertheless they took the lead in the sixth minute at the Stade de la Mosson as Andy Delort turned in Florent Mollet’s free-kick delivery from wide on the left.
Saint-Etienne, though, were back level in the 16th minute when Denis Bouanga did the spadework for Romain Hamouma to tap in. Claude Puel’s side then went in front five minutes into the second half when Mahdi Camara cut the ball back for captain Mathieu Debuchy to sidefoot in what proved to be the winner.
It has been an arduous campaign for Les Verts but they are now mathematically safe from the threat of automatic relegation and are eight clear of FC Nantes in the relegation play-off berth with just nine points still to play for.
THE PLAYER: Mathieu Debuchy
The former France international has now scored 27 top-flight goals, more than any other defender currently playing in Ligue 1.
THE STAT: 8
Saint-Etienne are eight points clear of the bottom three with three matches remaining.
Elsewhere on Sunday afternoon Nantes boosted their own hopes of avoiding the drop as they romped to a 4-1 win at Stade Brestois 29, their second straight victory on the road. Moses Simon put them ahead early on and Ludovic Blas scored a superb second at the Stade Francis-Le Blé.
Imran Louza got their third after the break before Kalifa Coulibaly converted his first goal of the season from the penalty spot. Romain Faivre pulled a goal back for Brest, who are themselves not yet totally safe from the threat of the drop.
Nantes are still four points from outright safety after FC Lorient defeated Angers SCO 2-0 with Yoane Wissa scoring a penalty just before the break and Fabien Lemoine netting just after half-time.
Nîmes Olympique in 19th are now two points away from Nantes with the play-off surely their only chance of staying up. The Crocodiles drew 2-2 at home to Stade de Reims, with Nathanaël Mbuku having the away side in front at the break at the Stade des Costières. Renaud Ripart equalised and Moussa Koné put Nîmes ahead, only for Alexis Flips to level for Reims late on.
Already relegated, bottom side Dijon FCO crashed to a 5-1 home loss against FC Metz. Lamine Gueye and Pape Matar Sarr scored in the first half for the visitors in Burgundy, while Bersant Celina was sent off for the hosts. Mama Baldé pulled one back for Dijon just after the break but a Fouad Chafik own goal and further strikes from Vagner Dias Gonçalves and Dylan Bronn secured a handsome win for Metz.