ASSE make it four wins in five
By D. Crossan
Saint-Etienne scored a crucial 2-0 win at Reims, potential rivals for a European finish, to make it 13 points claimed out of a possible 15.
Stade de Reims 0-2 AS Saint-Etienne
Les Verts needed the three points given OL, OM and Montpellier had already won this weekend and the victory lifted Jean-Louis Gasset's side back above OM and into fourth, three points back from local rivals OL. Now six points back from fifth-placed OM, Reims' excellent season doesn't look like resulting in European football following a second loss in 17 league outings.
ASSE dominated possession from the outset and took the lead in the 25th minute. Home goalkeeper Edouard Mendy kicked the ball straight to ASSE top scorer Wahbi Khazri. Mendy repelled the Tunisian international's shot but succeeded only in pushing the ball out as far as Rémy Cabelle who tapped home for his seventh league goal of the season.
Mendy (35') saved from Arnaud Nordin and Reims enjoyed a great chance when Rémi Oudin, club top scorer with ten goals, blazed over after connecting with a testing low Mathieu Cafaro cross (41').
Boulaye Dia, the Reims centre-forward, outmuscled Loïc Perrin to head against the frame of the goal (49') before David Guion's side were again the architects of their own downfall (51'), spurning several chances to clear their lines before Khazri turned in a low Nordin cross that went in off Björn Engels. A Perrin own goal (84') was chalked off for a Pablo Chavarria offside as ASSE kept a second straight clean sheet.
THE PLAYER: William Saliba
Having impressed in the 3-0 home win over Bordeaux, the 18-year-old centre-half had another fine game in Champagne country. Unflappable, he barely allowed the Reims attackers a sniff and when he did make the occasional error the player mentored by Kylian Mbappé's father, Wilfried, in the Paris suburb of Bondy showed excellent powers of recovery.
THE STAT: 50
Saint-Etienne have now scored an even 50 Ligue 1 Conforama goals this season.