Saint-Etienne makes up ground in Ligue 1, defeats lifeless Monaco
SAINT-ETIENNE, France — Saint-Etienne made up ground in the race for a Champions League spot by defeating Monaco 2-0 in the French league to provisionally move into third place on Saturday.
Fabien Lemoine fired a half-volley into the top corner in the 17th minute and Romain Hamouma doubled the lead for the hosts with a long-range strike in the 66th.
Paris Saint-Germain holds a five-point lead over Monaco at the top of the league and hosts Marseille on Sunday.
Lemoine shone in the first half, pouncing on a corner poorly cleared by the Monaco defense to score from 30 meters. The Saint-Etienne midfielder came close to adding a second goal in the 41st when Brandao set him up, but goalkeeper Danijel Subasic turned around the post his diagonal strike.
Lemoine also saved his team by clearing off the line a close-range effort from Monaco defender Nicolas Isimat-Mirin in the 39th.
Monaco coach Claudio Ranieri made a tactical shift at halftime by replacing Joao Moutinho and Anthony Martial with Lucas Ocampos and Nabil Dirar.
Saint-Etienne nearly caught Monaco off guard at the restart when Josuha Guilavogui connected with a free kick from Hamouma, but Subasic stopped the header from the Saint-Etienne midfielder in the 46th.
Goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier protected Saint-Etienne’s lead in the following minute by parrying a powerful drive from Valere Germain and denying James Rodriguez, who was clean through on goal.
Hamouma dashed Monaco’s hopes of coming back with a solo run from his own half. The Saint-Etienne winger outpaced four players and notched his eighth league goal with a swerving shot that Subasic could only palm into his own net.
Late Saturday, it was: Lorient vs. Bastia; Nice vs. Toulouse; Reims vs.Valenciennes; Rennes vs. Guingamp; and Sochaux vs. Bordeaux.
On Sunday, Lille travels to Ajaccio, and Lyon faces Montpellier.
Evian beat Nantes to snap an 11-game winless streak in all competitions and move five points clear of the relegation zone on Friday.