Robert Beric provided further evidence of his good form with another goal as AS Saint-Étienne pressed their claims for a top-four finish with a 3-0 win at SM Caen on Saturday.
SM Caen 0-5 AS Saint-Etienne
The Slovenia international forward has now been involved in three goals in his last five top-flight outings, and found the net at the Stade Michel d'Ornano to give the visitors a two-goal lead that paved the way for the win that eases Jean-Louis Gasset's men to within a point of fourth-placed Olympique de Marseille.
If Beric got the crucial second goal, the real architect of Les Verts' first win in three elague games was Romain Hamouma, who came back to haunt his former club with a rare vengeance.
Caen goalkeeper Brice Samba will feel he should have done better than to allow Hamouma's fifth-minute strike to pass him by as the visitors set the tone early; Samba was then beaten by Beric after Hamouma had picked out his teammate unerringly (20').
Hamouma even had time to test Samba with a shot (23') before heading up a counter-attack that led to him playing in Arnaud Nordin for the third with barely half-an-hour gone (31').
Winless in ten and in the relegation/promotion play-off spot at kick-off, Caen were in thrall to Hamouma, who appeared able to do as he pleased. Only Samba dared defy him, and turned away another strike on goal as Fabien Mercadal's men risked being swamped (54').
They held out until four minutes from time when Lamine Ghezali, who had replaced Hamouma less than ten minutes earlier, claimed a fourth and his maiden Ligue 1 Conforama goal before another substitute, Valentin Vada, also scored (90+1') to deservedly cap a resounding win that puts Saint-Étienne right back in the race for Europe
THE PLAYER: Romain Hamouma
That he was given a standing ovation by the home fans when he was substituted with Caen already 3-0 down and he was the principal reason for that says everything about his performance. This was a night when he was unplayable.
THE STAT: 15
Caen have now lost 15 times at home since the start of the 2017/18 season, more than any other top-flight side in that time.