FC Metz swept aside AS Saint-Etienne 3-0 on Wednesday to extend their unbeaten run to five Ligue 1 Conforama games and raise hopes still further they can pull off a miraculous escape from relegation.
FC Metz 3-0 AS Saint-Etienne
Metz started the match seven points from their nearest top-flight counterpart and nine adrift of safety, but their unbeaten run meant optimism was in the air at kick-off.
The crowd had good reason to be hopeful. Romain Hamouma headed an Emmanuel Rivière effort off the line (7') before Frédéric Hantz's men tipped the scales decisively in their favour.
They had some help from Cheikh Mbengue, whose poor backpass left Jessy Moulin in trouble, and the Saint-Etienne 'keeper brought down Danijel Milicevic, who was clean through - Rivière, one of three former Saint-Etienne players in the home line-up, convincingly scored from the spot (13').
The lead was quickly doubled. Rivière held off Loïc Perrin to allow the ball to run to Nolan Roux - the ex-Saint-Etienne forward slipped the ball to his right where Mathieu Dossevi had time to pick his spot (16').
Moulin turned away a Julian Palmieri volley (19') and thwarted Rivière twice (21', 27') as Metz threatened to run riot in the opening half-hour. Still, the visitors might have pulled one back before the break, but Eiji Kawashima pushed out Robert Beric's shot and blocked Hamouma's follow-up (44').
The unplayable Rivière headed wide (62') before Roux connected with Milicevic's flick from a Palmieri cross to make it three with his third goal in as many league games (78').
Hernani's dismissal five minutes from time, the consequence of two yellow cards for the substitute in just two minutes, compounded a miserable evening for Saint-Etienne, who have now won just one of their last 12 league matches since beating Metz 3-1 in Week 9.
THE PLAYER: Emmanuel Rivière
Against the team with whom he made his professional debut, the forward was an absolute terror, and might have had more goals.
THE STAT: 3
Metz have won just three of their last 15 Ligue 1 games, losing nine times.