Robert Beric came off the bench to score twice as AS Saint-Etienne came from behind to beat ESTAC Troyes 2-1 on Sunday and propel his in-form side into sixth place.
AS Saint-Etienne 2-1 ESTAC Troyes
With Saint-Etienne - unbeaten in 11 before kick-off - pushing for a European place and Troyes, third-from-bottom, four points adrift of safety, it was a question of whether ambition or fear would be the biggest motivating factor.
It seemed inititally it was the former as Gabriel Silva fired in an early warning shot for the hosts (5'), but the X-factor of individual error quickly handed the visitors an unexpected lead.
Neven Subotic has been a success for Les Verts since arriving from Borussia Dortmund in January, but the Serbia international was at fault as he surrendered possession to Benjamin Nivet and the Troyes captain's cross was finished smartly by Adama Niané (8').
The gift was all the more welcome given Troyes had failed to win any of their previous 13 away games, and Saint-Etienne struggled to recover from the body blow.
The half-time introduction of attacking potential in Beric and Kevin Monnet-Paquet suggested Jean-Louis Gasset was not happy with his troops, and the Saint-Etienne boss got the response he would have been looking for.
Romain Hamouma headed just over (49') and Monnet-Paquet did the same before Beric got his header from a Hamouma free-kick on target, expertly directing the ball past Erwin Zelazny to level (68').
The Slovenia international striker has made a crucial contribution since being recalled from his loan at Anderlecht in January, and he made it seven league goals since the turn of the year 16 minutes from time to give the hosts the win.
THE PLAYER: Robert Beric
Could the 26-year-old finally be fulfilling the expectations placed in him when he arrived in 2015? He has now bettered his tally for last season having played just 12 league games this term, and he has only started nine of them! More than simply his goals, his physical presence provides Saint-Etienne with an extra dimension - perhaps the record Ligue 1 Conforama champions have found the long-awaited successor to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
THE STAT: 13
Saint-Etienne have now won 13 of their last 15 home games in the top flight against Troyes. They lost the very first one in September 1954.