St. Etienne keeps pace in Ligue 1
Romain Hamouma's 22nd-minute goal settled a match which was initially scheduled to be played on Dec. 7, when it was postponed due to a frozen pitch.
The win was Les Verts' third in succession, the first time this season they have achieved the feat, and leaves them two points above Les Girondins but still seven behind third-placed Lille. Defeat for Evian, their third consecutive loss in all competitions, leaves Pascal Dupraz's team just two places above the relegation zone, albeit six points clear of 18th-placed Valenciennes.
ASSE began on the front foot and almost opened the scoring inside 15 minutes but Franck Tabanou's stinging effort from a tight angle was pushed away by Bertrand Laquait. That only served as a taster of what was to come though as Christophe Galtier's side took a deserved lead with 22 minutes on the clock.
Hamouma found space for a shot 20 yards out and, after seeing his initial shot parried by Laquait, the winger profited from some poor Evian defending to pounce and smash the rebound past the visitors' keeper. Despite both teams having to deal with an awful playing surface, the hosts continued to press and almost added a second 10 minutes later but Tabanou's rasping shot shaved the outside of Laquait's left post as the visitors continued to live dangerously.
There was still time for St Etienne to be denied once again before the half-time whistle when Benjamin Corgnet beat Jonathan Mensah and burst through on goal only for Laquait's firm hand to deny a second goal. The visitors almost grabbed an unlikely leveler with just five minutes played in the second half but Kevin Berigaud's excellent header passed just over the crossbar after Modou Sougou's delivery.
A much-improved Evian continued to try and push the hosts further back, with Sougou doing a lot of their good work, but his final ball too often failed to find a team-mate as the home defense held out. The hosts continued to look dangerous on the counter though and both Brandao and Tabanou went close with efforts that just failed to find the target.
Evian almost leveled with just minutes left to play when Sougou slid in on Cedric Barbosa's delivery but, with a goal looking the likeliest outcome, Stephane Ruffier somehow kept out the Evian winger's effort on the goal-line.